Tennessee Smokies

Tennessee Smokies
Founded in 1897
Kodak, Tennessee
Team logoCap insignia
Class-level
Current Double-A (1963–present)
Previous
  • A (1956–1962)
  • B (1954)
  • D (1953)
  • B (1946–1952)
  • A1 (1936–1944)
  • A (1931–1935)
  • B (1925–1929)
  • D (1910–1924)
  • C (1909)
Minor league affiliations
League Southern League
Division North
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
Current Chicago Cubs (2007–present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles (3)
  • 1974
  • 1978
  • 2004
Division titles (4)
  • 2004
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
Team data
Nickname Tennessee Smokies (2000–present)
Previous names
  • Knoxville Smokies (1993–1999)
  • Knoxville Blue Jays (1980–1992)
  • Knoxville Sox (1972–1979)
  • Knoxville Smokies (1925–1967)
  • Knoxville Pioneers (1921–1924)
  • Knoxville Reds (1912–1914)
  • Knoxville Appalachians (1909–1911)
  • Knoxville Baseball Club (1904)
  • Knoxville Indians (1897)
Ballpark Smokies Stadium (2000–present)
Previous parks
  • Bill Meyer Stadium (1957–1967, 1972-1999)
  • Municipal Stadium (1954, 1956-1957)
  • Chapman Hwy. Park (1953)
  • Smithson Stadium (1931–1943, 1946-1952)
  • Caswell Park (1921–1929)
  • Chilhowee Park (1909–1914)
  • Baldwin Park (1896–1897)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
SPBC, LLC, Randy Boyd
Manager Mark Johnson
General Manager Tim Volk
Media MiLB.TV and WNML/WNML-FM

The Tennessee Smokies are a Minor League Baseball team based in the Knoxville, Tennessee, metropolitan area. The team, which plays in the Southern League, are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Smokies Stadium, the team's ballpark, is located in the suburb of Kodak, and seats up to 8,000 fans. The team was based in Knoxville and called the Knoxville Smokies for many years before moving to Kodak and changing its name prior to the 2000 season. The team's nickname refers to the Great Smoky Mountains mountain range which permeates the region; mountains in the chain are often clouded in a hazy mist that may appear as smoke rising from the forest.

Early history

Knoxville's first organized baseball franchise, the Appalachians, played in the original South Atlantic League (Class C) in 1909. The club dropped out of the "Sally League" that season, but—after Knoxville fielded teams in the Class D Southeastern and Appalachian leagues—returned to the South Atlantic loop, now Class B, as the Smokies from 1925 to 1929. On July 22, 1931, the Mobile Bears franchise of the A1 Southern Association moved to Knoxville and played as the Smokies through July 5, 1944, when the club returned to Mobile. The transfer marked the end of Knoxville's membership in the Southern Association.

In 1946, the Smokies joined the Class B Tri-State League and played in it until the loop folded in 1955. But in July 1956, when the Montgomery Rebels of the Class A South Atlantic League needed a new home, they transferred to Knoxville. The Smokies' manager that season was Earl Weaver who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Double-A and the Southern League

The Smokies were reclassified as Double-A with the rest of the Sally League in 1963, and were charter members of the Sally's successor, the Southern League, in 1964. Apart from a four-year (1968–1971) hiatus, they have continued in the Southern loop ever since.

Knoxville returned in 1972 as the Knoxville White Sox or Knox Sox, the Chicago White Sox's Double-A club. They transferred their affiliation to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980, a link that lasted until 1999. For the first 13 of those years, the team was officially known as the Knoxville Blue Jays, or locally referred to as simply the K-Jays. The historic Smokies moniker was reintroduced beginning in the 1993 season.

From 1954 to 1999, Knoxville baseball teams played in Bill Meyer Stadium, formerly known as Knoxville Municipal Stadium, on Don Ridley Field. The stadium was named for Knoxville native son and former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Billy Meyer.

Prior to 2005, the Smokies were the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and before that the Toronto Blue Jays. However, when the Cardinals purchased the El Paso Diablos, which had been the Arizona Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate, the Diamondbacks retained the Smokies as their new Double-A affiliate. On September 21, 2006, the Chicago Cubs, who had previously had a Double-A affiliation with division rival West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, reached a two-year player development contract with the Smokies through the 2008 season.

Chicago Cubs (2007–present)

In December 2008, Hall of Famer and former Chicago Cubs All-Star second baseman Ryne Sandberg was named manager for the 2009 season. Sandberg led the Smokies to a second-half Southern League North Division crown and a 3–1 divisional playoff series win over the Huntsville Stars. The Smokies would eventually fall 3-games-to-1 to the Jacksonville Suns for the 2009 Southern League Championship.

In June 2013, the then-Smokies' ownership group, led by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, sold the team to Randy Boyd, a local Knoxville businessman. Though a devoted baseball fan, Boyd is not involved in the day-to-day management of the team, delegating those responsibilities to CEO Doug Kirchhofer and General Manager Brian Cox.[1] In 2016, speculation began that Boyd was wanting to move the Smokies back to Knoxville after he had purchased several parcels in downtown Knoxville. Boyd said he has envisioned a baseball stadium on that site, but has no plans to bring the baseball team back to Knoxville until 2025, when the current stadium contract expires, at the earliest.[2][3]

On July 11, 2014, The Chicago Cubs and Tennessee Smokies announced an extension to their Player Development Contract (PDC) for the maximum possible term of four years. The agreement means the Smokies will be the Cubs' Double-A affiliate through the 2018 season.[4]

On October 22, 2014 the Smokies revealed new logos, colors, and uniforms that reflected their ongoing relationship with the Chicago Cubs organization.[5]

Smokies Stadium experienced its largest crowd ever of 7,958 on May 13, 2017, against the Montgomery Biscuits. The Smokies lost the game 3–1, which was also Star Wars Night.[6] The previous attendance record was the 7,866 on July 24, 2015, against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Smokies won the game 8–4, which was also Toy Story Night and Daddy-Daughter Date Night.[7]

Television and radio

All Tennessee Smokies games are shown live on MiLB.TV. The current voice of the Smokies is Mick Gillispie. The pre and postgame shows are hosted by Keith Brake and Greg Young. All games are also broadcast on Sports Radio WNML-FM 99.1 FM and WNML 990 AM. Bear Trax is a weekly television show hosted by Mick Gillispie and Charlie Walter about the Smokies and airs at 11pm ET on WTNZ Fox43.

Notable alumni

Year-by-year record

YearRecordFinishManagerPlayoffs
200071–694thRocket Wheeler
200180–602ndRocket Wheeler
200269–716thRocket Wheeler
200372–674thMark DeJohnLost in 1st round
200469–716thMark DeJohnCo-Champs*
200564–767thTony Perezchica
200670–695thBill Plummer
200773–652ndPat ListachLost in Semi-Finals
200862–775thBuddy Bailey
200971–692ndRyne SandbergLost in Finals
201086–531stBill DancyLost in Finals
201183-571stBrian HarperLost in Finals
201272-683rdBuddy Bailey
201376-62T-1stBuddy BaileyLost in Semi-Finals
201466-732ndBuddy Bailey
201576-633rdBuddy Bailey
201658-819thMark Johnson
201768-707thMark Johnson

* Due to Hurricane Ivan the finals series was cancelled. Tennessee and Mobile were declared co-champions.

Playoffs

Roster

Tennessee Smokies roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

  • 16 Erick Castillo
  • 17 Will Remillard
  •  5 Ian Rice

Infielders

  • -- Gioskar Amaya
  • 12 Yasiel Balaguert
  •  6 Trent Giambrone
  • 24 Jesse Hodges
  • 11 Carlos Penalver
  •  4 Zack Short
  • 22 Jason Vosler

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches


7-day disabled list
* On Chicago Cubs 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated June 15, 2018
Transactions
→ More rosters: MiLB  Southern League
Chicago Cubs minor league players

References

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