Founded in 1898
Spokane Valley, Washington
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
Kansas City Royals|
San Diego Padres
California Angels (1982)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia Phillies (1953)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1947)
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (12)||
|Division titles (17)||
Red, navy, light blue, beige|
|Mascot||Otto, Doris the Spokanasaurus, Recycle Man, Ribby the Redband Trout|
|Brett Sports & Entertainment|
|General Manager||Chris Duff|
The Spokane Indians are a Minor League Baseball team in the northwest United States, located in Spokane Valley, a suburb of Spokane, Washington. A member of the short-season Class A-Short Season Northwest League, they have been a farm team of the Texas Rangers since 2003. The Indians play home games at Avista Stadium, which opened in 1958 and has a seating capacity of 6,752. From 1958 through 1982, the Indians were in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, except in 1972. The Indians have won 12 league titles: four in the PCL and eight in the NWL. The city has over a century of history in minor league baseball, dating back to the 1890s.
Spokane's minor league history dates to 1892, when it fielded a team in the Pacific Northwest League. The nickname Indians dates to 1903, when Spokane joined the Pacific National League – a predecessor to the PCL and, at Class A, an elite minor league of the period, equivalent to Triple A today. The Indians lasted only two seasons at that higher level before dropping to the Class B Northwestern League, which folded during World War I.
In 1937, Spokane became a charter member of the Class B Western International League, the predecessor of the Northwest League. They played at Ferris Field from 1937 through 1942 and 1946 until folding during the 1954 season on June 21.
In 1954, four-year-old Memorial Stadium (now Joe Albi Stadium) was considered as a potential minor league baseball venue.
Spokane was a charter member of the Northwest League, which debuted in 1955 in Class B. These Indians also played at Ferris Field, but folded after just two seasons, and the city went without minor league baseball in 1957.
The 1946 Spokane bus tragedy
In 1946, the WIL Indians were victims of the worst transit accident in the history of American professional sport. On June 24, the team was on its way west to Bremerton by bus to play the Bluejackets. While crossing the Cascade Mountains on a rain-slickened Snoqualmie Pass Highway (then U.S. Route 10), the bus driver swerved to avoid an oncoming car. The Indians' vehicle veered off the road and down an embankment, then crashed and burst into flames.
Nine men died — six of them instantly — and seven were injured. The dead were catcher/manager Mel Cole, pitchers Bob Kinnaman and George Lyden, catcher Chris Hartje, infielders Fred Martinez, Vic Picetti and George Risk, and outfielders Bob James and Bob Paterson. Despite a severe head wound, infielder Ben Geraghty was able to struggle back up the mountainside to signal for help. Injured survivors also included pitchers Pete Barisoff, Gus Hallbourg and Dick Powers, catcher Irv Konopka, outfielder Levi McCormack, and bus driver Glen Berg.
One player from the 1946 team, future major league infielder Jack "Lucky" Lohrke, missed the tragedy because his contract was sold to the PCL San Diego Padres on June 24 and he departed the ill-fated bus during a late lunch stop in Ellensburg, not long before the accident, thus helping to earn his nickname. (Lohrke averted tragedy earlier when he was bumped from a military transport plane which later crashed.) Two Indians' pitchers, Milt Cadinha and Joe Faria, were making the trip to Bremerton by automobile and were not aboard the team bus when it crashed.
The Indians, relying on players loaned from other teams, managed to finish the season and placed seventh in the league. A special charity, the Spokane Baseball Benefit Association, donated $114,800 to the injured survivors and dependents of the nine players who died.
Beth Bollinger of Spokane wrote a novel titled Until the End of the Ninth, which is based on the true story of the 1946 bus crash and its aftermath.
Pacific Coast League (1958–1971, 1973–1982)
When the Los Angeles Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to the west coast in 1958, they moved their PCL affiliate, the Los Angeles Angels, north to Spokane. While with the Dodgers for 14 seasons, the Indians won league titles in 1960 and 1970, and were runners-up in 1963, 1967, and 1968.
The 1970 Indians, managed by Tommy Lasorda, won 94 of 146 games (.644) in the regular season to win the northern division by 26 games, then swept the Hawaii Islanders in four games in the PCL playoffs. The team included Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine (PCL MVP), Tom Paciorek, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Doyle Alexander.
Following the 1971 season, the club was moved south to New Mexico and became the Albuquerque Dukes. Spokane, which had been in the Northwest League for its first two seasons in 1955 and 1956, returned to the NWL in 1972 as a Dodger affiliate, but only for one season, as a new PCL franchise arrived in 1973 from Portland, and now the affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The 1973 team, which included Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle, won the west division by eleven games and swept Tucson in three games in the championship series. The following year's club successfully defended the title with another three-game sweep, this time over Albuquerque.
The Indians' second stint in Triple-A lasted ten seasons and included affiliations with the Rangers, which changed to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976, Seattle Mariners in 1979, and California Angels in 1982. Taking their first division crown since 1974, the Indians defeated Tacoma in the first round, but fell to Albuquerque in the championship series in six games. Soon after that season, the team moved south to Las Vegas and became the Stars, now the 51s. The team's general manager was Larry Koentopp, the former head coach and athletic director at Gonzaga. He was the leader of a local ownership group that purchased the team after the 1978 season. The team was purchased for $259,000 in 1978 and was sold in 1993 for $6.1 million.
Northwest League (1983–present)
A new NWL franchise was awarded to Spokane for the 1983 season and the Indians have won eight league titles; the first four were consecutive, from 1987 through 1990. The Indians won their seventh NWL championship in 2005, despite a 37–39 (.487) record during the regular season. They became only the second team in league history (after the 1982 Salem Angels) to win the championship with a losing regular season record. Spokane won the east division, then beat league-leading Vancouver on the road in games four and five of the championship series to win the title.
In 2008, the Indians captured their eighth league title with a thrilling four-game series victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. After dropping the first game, the Spokane rallied to a 11–10 win in 10 innings to even the series. In game three, the Indians fell behind 10–2 before then rallied for nine unanswered runs to win again 11–10. Spokane won the title with a 6–5 victory in 10 innings in the fourth game.
The Indians were featured in the "Spokane Alphabet" reverse glass painting by Washington (state) artist Melinda Curtin. They were the I in the alphabet, cementing their place as an important part of the city of Spokane.
- 1987: Defeated Everett 2-1 to win championship.
- 1988: Defeated Southern Oregon 2-1 to win championship.
- 1989: Defeated Southern Oregon 2-1 to win championship.
- 1990: Defeated Boise 2-1 to win championship.
- 1999: Defeated Portland 3-0 to win championship.
- 2003: Defeated Salem-Keizer 3-0 to win championship.
- 2005: Defeated Vancouver 3-2 to win championship.
- 2008: Defeated Salem-Keizer 3-1 to win championship.
- 2010: Defeated Yakima 2-0 in semifinals; lost to Everett 2-1 in finals.
Baseball Hall of Fame alumni
- Tommy Lasorda (1969-1971, MGR) Inducted, 1997
- Duke Snider (1965, MGR) Inducted, 1980
- Don Sutton (1968) Inducted, 1998
- Hoyt Wilhelm (1971) Inducted, 1985
- Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1984) 1990 MLB Rookie of the Year; 6 x MLB All Star
- Carlos Beltrán (1996) 1999 AL Rookie of the Year; 9 x All Star
- Bruce Bochy (1989, MGR) Manager: 3 x World Series Champion - SF Giants (2010, 2012, 2014)
- Bill Buckner (1969-1970) MLB All-Star; 1982 NL Batting Title
- Dolph Camilli (1948, MGR) 2 x MLB All-Star; 1941, NL Most Valuable Player
- Ron Cey (1971) 6 x MLB All-Star
- Gino Cimoli (1965) MLB All-Star
- Matt Clement (1994) MLB All Star
- Joey Cora MLB All Star
- Roger Craig (1959)
- Chris Davis (2006) MLB All Star ;MLB Home Run Leader: 2013, 2015.
- Neftalí Feliz, MLB All Star
- Steve Garvey (1970) 10 x MLB All-Star; 1974 NL Most Valuable Player
- Zack Greinke (2002) 2009 AL Cy Young Award; 4 x MLB All-Star
- Brad Gulden
- Ian Kinsler (2003) 4 x MLB All Star
- Davey Lopes (1971) 4 x MLB All-Star
- Gary Matthews Jr. (1994) MLB All Star
- Tony Mullane (1902)
- Don Newcombe (1961) 4 x MLB All-Star; 1949 NL Rookie of the Year; 1956 NL Cy Young Award; 1956 NL Most Valuable Player
- Gorman Thomas (1972) MLB All-Star
- Roy White (1967) 2 x MLB All-Star
- Mitch Williams (1983) MLB All Star
- Maury Wills (1959) 7 x MLB All-Star; 1962 NL Most Valuable Player
- Ned Yost (1978) Manager: 2015 World Series Champion - Kansas City Royals
- Spokane Indians players
- Spokane Hawks players (1937–1939)
Spokane Indians roster
60-day disabled list
Logos and uniforms
In the 2006 offseason, the Indians began a process to redesign their logo and uniforms. As per tradition, they began by avoiding the use of any American Indian imagery, but early in the process of redesign, the Spokane Nation contacted the team about officially supporting the team. In the process, the tribe gave permission to the team to adopt subtle and tasteful imagery, in order to pay homage to the team's history and new connection with the tribe. The cooperation, called "historic" by the team, included the creation of a secondary logo written in Salish, the traditional language of the tribe. The team's colors are red, navy blue light blue, and beige.
- "Spokane Indians Mascots".
- Price, Jim (June 21, 2003). "Birth of the Indians". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. H2.
- Price, Jim (June 21, 2003). "Beginnings and sad endings". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. H4.
- May, Danny (June 13, 1939). "What the outfielders saw of Spokane's largest crowd at Ferris Field". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. (photo). p. 1.
- "WI loop to carry on with 8 teams". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 22, 1954. p. 19.
- "Indians return home but not to play tilts". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. June 23, 1954. p. 16.
- "Memorial Stadium may be used for pro baseball". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 15, 1954. p. 19.
- May, Danny (May 1, 1955). "Chiefs nip Tribe in opener, 8-7". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 1, sports.
- May, Danny (September 8, 1956). "Tribe drops finale at Ferris Field, 8-5". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 12.
- May, Danny (February 16, 1957). "Spokane Indians fold; need $75,000 miracle". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 8.
- "8 Spokane baseball players dead in crash of their bus". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 25, 1946. p. 1.
- "Hartje, driver still in danger". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 26, 1946. p. 1.
- "WIL resumes play, Tigers move up". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. June 27, 1946. p. 12.
- J. G. Taylor Spink, ed., 1947 Baseball Guide and Record Book. St. Louis, Missouri: The Sporting News, 1947, p. 207
- Colford, Ann M. (September 23, 2006). "Spokane Indians baseball team bus crash kills nine on Snoqualmie Pass on June 24, 1946". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- "Playoff-bound Indians dominate All-Star lineup". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. (photo). September 4, 1970. p. 1.
- "Pacific Coast League: final standings". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 4, 1970. p. 17.
- "Indians return to Spokane after sweep of Islanders". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 9, 1970. p. 12.
- "Bobby Valentine gets Coast MVP". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 4, 1970. p. 16.
- "1970 Spokane Indians". Baseball Reference. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Missildine, Harry (December 13, 1971). "Baseball set for Spokane". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 1.
- Lynch, Mike (February 3, 1972). "Ken Merkel heads club". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 15.
- "Ex-POW will toss 1st ball tomorrow". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. April 12, 1973. p. 29.
- "Celebration sedate one for PCL champ Indians". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. September 7, 1973. p. 13.
- Stewart, Chuck (September 7, 1974). "Spokane captures PCL flag; busy Dunning hurls victory". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 10.
- Washington (September 2, 1982). "PCL: final standings". Spokane Chronicle. p. 32.
- Blanchette, John (September 2, 1982). "Tribe ready to put up Dukes". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. p. 17.
- Blanchette, John (September 13, 1982). "Indians make it difficult, but Dukes win PCL again". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. p. 20.
- Blanchette, John (September 14, 1982). "Indians gambling on Vegas". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 23.
- "Spokane team move okayed". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. UPI. September 15, 1982. p. 15.
- Jordan, Jeff (May 10, 1977). "Koentopp quits Gonzaga baseball position". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 15.
- Washington (September 30, 1978). "Tribe purchased by local group". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 11.
- Stewart, Chuck (January 24, 1983). "'Fun' subsided fast". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. p. 18.
- "Koentopp family hires detective in search of missing woman". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. August 29, 1996. p. C5.
- Stalwick, Howie (September 8, 1990). "Indians win record fourth straight title". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. B1.
- Larson, J.D. (September 8, 2005). "Somehow, some way, Indians make playoffs". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C1.
- "NWL: final standings". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 8, 2005. p. C4.
- Larson, J.D. (September 12, 2005). "It's only appropriate: Indians win". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C1.
- Larson, J.D. (September 13, 2005). "Indians win NWL pennant". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C1.
- Spokane Indians official site, Minor League Baseball.com