Saturday, August 25, 2012

Remember the Pilots! (1969)

The Seattle Pilots were maybe one if not the worst professional franchises ever ran since the turn of the century when both American and National Leagues took it current forms.  In 1967, during the Major League Winter meetings Seattle was awarded an American League Franchise to begin in 1969.  It was promised that the franchise would have a new state of the art dome built in three years after the begin of play.  Like most expansion teams of the 1960s they began play in an old minor league ballpark with added seating.  Teams such as the Houston .45s, Montreal Expos, and Seattle Pilots all had to build basic metal bleacher seating to quickly get their ballparks ready for Major League Play.  The Pilots new home was built in 1938 for the Pacific Coast League's Seattle Rainiers (now the Tacoma Rainiers).
When 1969 rolled around, the Pilots were already at a disadvantage.  Sick 's Stadium had the highest ticket prices and highest concessions than any other major league team.  Fan disconnect began to happen almost as fast as the first game played.  There was no television deals, all games were mostly broadcast on radio.  There was little to no promotion of the team, with the exception of word of mouth.  In addition to having a losing record, during July the Pilots record was 9-20 and August was even worse at 6-22.  The Pilots ended their first and only season in Seattle with a record of 64-98.  Though most expansion teams usually finish with losing records it was the fact that team lost much more money than they could handle.  When it was all said and done, the final attendance totals for the Pilots were 677,944 (8,370 avg per game).  The team struggled not only in the stands but also struggled keeping any money left to cover player contracts and bills.  By the end of the season the cash strapped team had no other option then to maybe move.  Several attempts were made to keep baseball in Washington, but a car salesman (and current MLB Commissioner) Bud Selig started talks in getting the Pilots to Milwaukee. 

As of 1970 spring training began, the players showed up and they were still officially known as the Seattle Pilots.  After a few weeks of spring training players weren't getting paid, and finally on April 1, 1970 the Seattle Pilots were bankrupt.  This gave six days for the former Pilots players and equipment to get from Utah, site of spring training, to Milwaukee.  Because of all the travel from Utah and only six days till opening day, the now Brewers played in their old Pilots jersey's with the Pilots logo ripped off.  Thus the Brewers kept an almost identical color scheme as the old Pilots.

I hope you enjoyed a quick look down memory lane of Seattle's first MLB team! Enjoy my card set below from the 1983 Renata Galasso Seattle Pilots. There are no star players, but I love these cards!

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No negative comments please, this blog is for fun and not intended as a business...just a collector giving some views.