- London Tigers
The London Tigers were a professional 'AA'
baseballteam that played in the Eastern League from 1989 to 1993. They played at historic Labatt Memorial Parkin London, Ontario, and were affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.
After 47 years without a pro team, professional baseball returned to London in 1989 when the
Glens Falls Tigersmoved to the city and took on the name London Tigers.
Sitting on the Tigers' Board of Directors were President Dan Ross, Vice President Mike Tucker, Vice-President and General Manager Bob Gilson, Vice-President and Assistant General Manager General Manager Bill Wilkinson and Vice-President Brian Costello.
Sitting on the Tigers' Advisory Board were Brad Nelson, Bill MacDougall, London restaurant entrepreneur Mike Smith, Spencer Clark, Bruce Johnson and Tom Whealy.
The inaugural season homeopener for the Tigers was on Friday, April 7, 1989, against the
Albany, New York, Yankees.
During the team's inaugural season, the club derived its offence from unusual sources -- shortstop and catcher. Shortstop
Travis Frymanled the EL with 30 doubles, while hitting .265/.297/.402 and catcher Phil Clark batted .298/.328/.427.
Scott Livingstonehit a team-high 14 HR but batted just .217. Paul Wensonwent 2-3 with a 3.50 ERA one year after leading the EL in ERA while Darren Hursey(8-13, 3.97) led the league in losses, hits allowed (183) and runs allowed (92). The Tigers went 63-76 and finished 6th of 8 teams.
The London Tigers, managed by former New York Yankee star,
Chris Chamblissdrew 167,679 fans, more than they had their last two years in Glens Falls.
Chambliss was named Manager of the Year in the
1990Eastern League after London finished 76-63, just three games behind the Albany Yankees, while attendance was just 15 fans off of the opening season's pace.
All-Star first baseman
Rico Brognawas named the #3 prospect in the circuit and led the league in homers (21), and tied for the lead in RBI (77) while hitting .262/.331/.447. Mike Wilkins(13-5, 2.42), Dave Haas(13-8, 2.99) and Rusty Meacham(15-9, 3.13) gave the club a nice trio of arms; Wilkins was 6th in the league in ERA, Haas 9th and Meacham led in wins.
In the post-season, London lost the first two games to the
Canton-Akron Indiansbut then won three in a row at home Labatt Park. They then beat the New Britain Red Soxin three straight games to become the first Detroit Tigersfarm club to win the Eastern League championship.
Third year in London
Gene Roofmanaged the team to sixth place in 1991with a 61-78 record as attendance slipped to 150,435.
Brogna was again named one of the top prospects in the loop (4th) though he spent some of the year in the
International Leaguewhile he hit .273/.330/.457; for the second straight year he hit as many doubles as homers for London. Steve Pegueshit .301 and Lou Frazierstole 42 bases and drew 77 walks. John Doherty(3-3, 15 Sv, 2.22) was the top pitcher on the squad.
Fourth year in London
Mark DeJohnmanaged London to a 67-70 record in 1992as the team finished in fifth. Attendance dropped to 112,913, lowest in the EL.
The club's top position players were all repeats at
AA. All-Star 1B Ivan Cruzhit .273/.321/.407 in his second year with London; he drove in 104 to become the first EL player to top 100 since Mark Gracefive years earlier. OF Frazier (in his 4th year at AA and third with London) hit .252/.376/.298 and led the circuit in walks (95), steals (58) and times caught stealing (23). Greg Sparks (in his 5th season at AA) hit .232/.331/.482 and topped the league with 25 homers; he was named to the All-Star team at DH. 3B Rob Reimink(.296/.393/.381 in his second year with London) was 4th in the league in average and Tyrone Kingwood(in his second AA season) (.284/.333/.385, 22 SB) also placed in the top 10 in average.
Fifth and final year in London
1993with Tom Runnellsas manager, the Tigers again drew the fewest fans, with 103,840, when Runnells led the team to a 63-75, 6th place finish.
The team at least wasn't loaded with minor-league veterans -- 21-year-old OF
Danny Bautistahit .285/.336/.382 and stole 28 bases; 23-year-old OF Rudy Pembertonposted a .276/.311/.435 line with 15 homers; 23-year-old 2B Shannon Penn(.260/.335/.310) led the league with 53 stolen bases and 22-year-old OF Bobby Higginsonbatted .308/.362/.464 after a call-up from the Lakeland Tigers. Felipe Lirawent 10-4 with a 3.38 ERA, the third-best ERA in the league, and was the last London Tiger to make the EL All-Star team. Jose Limawent 8-13 with a 4.07 ERA.
After the 1993 campaign, the Tigers, frustrated with sinking attendance, moved the team to
Trenton, New Jerseywhere they became the Trenton Thunder. After one year in Trenton, the Thunder switched affiliation from Detroit to the Boston Red Sox.
* "London Tigers 1989, The Collector's Edition, Souvenir Program".
* "Tiger Special: Peanuts, popcorn, crackerjack, Baseball's Back", "
The London Free Press", Section F, April 7, 1989.
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