Memphis Blues

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

The Memphis Blues joined the Texas League in 1968, becoming the first minor league team in Memphis, TN in eight years. The New York Mets farm club was led by Barry Raziano (8-8, 1.75) and Rich Folkers (13-9, 2.41). In '69 Pete Pavlick, John Antonelli and Roy McMillan managed the team to a 66-65 record, the best in a weak eastern division and Memphis swept the 80-55 Amarillo Giants in a stunning upset in the league championship. McMillan was named the top manager in the eastern division of the league, while SS Ted Martinez (.263/~.275/.342), Jim Bibby (10-6, 3.32) and Bob Johnson (13-4, 1.48) joined him on the All-Star team for the east. Johnson was two innings shy of the ERA title qualifiers, or he would have handily led the league. Les Rohr (9-7, 3.18) was fourth in ERA.

In 1970 the club was led offensively by John Milner (.297, 20 HR) and Arsenio Diaz (.310, 16 HR, 102 RBI) and the team went 72-71. They again won a weak division but this time fell in the postseason. A year later they were again right around .500, 69-70 in the Dixie Association, second in the four-team Central Division. The club, managed by Antonelli, had one All-Star - 3B James Plant (.220/~.299/.401, 18 HR). Don Camy (7-16, 2.83) finished 8th in the Texas part of the Association in ERA and John Glass (13-6, 2.85) was 9th, but their records varied greatly. Camy led the league in losses. In '72 they went 75-63 behind the pitching of Craig Swan (7-3, 2.25), Hank Webb (9-5, 2.27) and Bob Apodaca (11-7, 2.81). The offense was led by Dave Schneck (.304, 24 HR).

Memphis ended their 6-year run in the Texas League in 1973. Managed by Joe Frazier the club went 77-61-1 and again took the eastern division title; they then beat the San Antonio Brewers in a best-of-five championship that went the distance. All-Stars were 1B Tom Hallums (.305/~.368/.453), OF Greg Harts (.263/~.316/.368) and P Tim Juran (12-7, 2.62), who was second in the league in ERA. Memphis had won two championships in six years.

The team moved to the International League in 1974 and became a Montreal Expos affiliate. Managed by Karl Kuehl the club dazzled, going 87-55 for the best record in the league, though they fell in the playoffs. They drew 132,513, third in the league. The team had three All-Stars - manager Kuehl, catcher Gary Carter (.268/~.357/.488) and outfielder Pepe Mangual (.292/~.393/.470). Mangual led the IL with 46 steals, hit 17 homers and finished 5th in average while Carter finished second to Triple Crown winner Jim Rice in homers (23) and RBI (83).

In 1975 Kuehl's club fell to 65-75; attendance fell to 75,462 (7th of 8 teams) and the team had just one All-Star, Ellis Valentine (.306/~.384/.457). Valentine led the league in runs (87), hits (151), total bases (226) and tied for the lead in doubles (30). John Montague (7-8, 1 Sv, 1.83) finished second in the IL in ERA while Don Stanhouse (6-5, 1.91) missed the qualifiers. Jerry White (.297/~.340/.455) was among the leaders in average.

1976 saw a 69-69 season under Jim Beauchamp as Kuehl moved up to manage Montreal and the team became a Houston Astros affiliate. The club finished third in the IL and fell in the first round of the playoffs. The team had no All-Stars and again finished 7th in attendance (92,973). Despite playing just 74 games for Memphis, 3B Art Howe led the team in homers (12) while posting a fine .355/~.440/.598 line. 1B Craig Cacek (.324/~.428/.429) was third in the IL in OBP, fourth in average and second in hits (154). Joe Sambito (3-0, 6.33) fared very poorly but by the next season was one of the top relievers in the National League. The team had been drawing poorly and in 1977 vanished. Memphis would join the Southern League a year later but no team since has used the Memphis Blues name.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1968 67-69 5th Roy Sievers
1969 66-65 4th Pete Pavlick (22-28) / Roy McMillan (44-37) League Champs
1970 69-67 3rd John Antonelli Lost League Finals
1971 69-70 4th John Antonelli
1972 75-64 3rd John Antonelli
1973 77-61 2nd Joe Frazier League Champs
1974 87-55 1st Karl Kuehl Lost in 1st round
1975 65-75 5th Karl Kuehl
1976 69-69 3rd Jim Beauchamp Lost in 1st round