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Many big-name players have worked their way through Appy League

Douglas Fritz • Jun 19, 2018 at 1:06 AM

Appalachian League baseball has been around for a long time, and there are plenty of interesting faces, names and places through the years.

Here’s a look at the history of the local minor league baseball organization, with information drawn from the Appalachian League Record Book.

Grass roots

The first season was 1911 with teams in Johnson City, Bristol (Virginia), Cleveland, Asheville (North Carolina), Morristown and Knoxville.

Johnson City’s W.W. Miller was the first league president. Since Miller, there have been 14 others take the role. Chauncey De Vault held the position the longest, serving from 1948-79. Current president Lee Landers has been at the helm since 1996.

The modern Appalachian League began in 1957, its first year as a short-season league. The six teams that season were Johnson City, Kingsport, Bluefield (West Virginia) and three Virginia teams, Salem, Pulaski and Wytheville.

BLUEFIELD

First year: 1937

Affiliations: Braves (1946-51), Senators (1953), Red Sox (1954-55), Dodgers (1957), Orioles (1958-2010), Blue Jays (2011-present).

Championships: 14 (most recent, 2001)

Notable alumni

Don Baylor (1967), Eddie Murray (1973), Cal Ripken Jr. (1978).

BRISTOL

First year: 1911

Affiliations: Giants (1942-51), Pirates (1952-53), Yankees (1954-55), Tigers (1969-94), White Sox (1995-2013), Pirates (2014-present).

Championships: 8 (most recent, 2002)

Notable alumni

Bobby Thompson (1942), Mark Fidrych (1974), Lance Parrish (1974), Lou Whitaker (1975), Alan Trammell (1976).

BURLINGTON

First year: 1986

Affiliations: Indians (1986-2006), Royals (2007-present)

Championships: 2 (most recent, 1993)

Notable alumni

Brian Giles (1989), Jim Thome (1990), Manny Ramirez (1991), Bartolo Colon (1994), C.C. Sabathia (1998).

DANVILLE

First year: 1993

Affiliations: Braves (1993-present)

Championships: 2 (most recent, 2009)

Notable alumni

Andruw Jones (1994), Adam Wainwright (2000), Elvis Andrus (2005), Craig Kimbrel (2008).

ELIZABETHTON

First year: 1937

Affiliations: Red Sox (1937-40), Dodgers (1941), Cubs (1945-48), Phillies (1951), Twins (1974-present)

Championships: 13 (most recent, 2017)

Notable alumni

Kent Hrbek (1979), Gary Gaetti (1979), Kirby Puckett (1982), Joe Mauer (2001), Justin Morneau (2001).

GREENEVILLE

First year: 2004

Affiliations: Astros (2004-17), Reds (2018-present)

Championships: 2 (most recent, 2015)

Notable alumni

Jose Altuve (2008-09), J.D. Martinez (2009), Carlos Correa (2012).

JOHNSON CITY

First year: 1911

Affiliations: Cardinals (1938-55), Phillies (1957-60), Cardinals (1961), Yankees (1964-74), Cardinals (1975-present)

Championships: 11 (most recent, 2016)

Notable alumni

Bobby Murcer (1964), Ron Guidry (1971), Vince Coleman (1982), Terry Pendleton (1982), Yadier Molina (2001).

KINGSPORT

First year: 1921

Affiliations: Dodgers (1942), Senators (1943, 1946-47), White Sox (1948), Giants (1952), Orioles (1957), Pirates (1960-63), Royals (1969-73), Braves (1974-79), Mets (1980-82, 1984-present)

Championships: 7 (most recent, 1995)

Notable alumni

Dale Murphy (1974), Darryl Strawberry (1980), Dwight Gooden (1982), Jose Reyes (2000), David Wright (2001), Jacob deGrom (2010).

PRINCETON

First year: 1988

Affiliations: Pirates (1988-89), Reds (1991-96), Rays (1997-present)

Championships: 1 (most recent, 1994)

Notable alumni

Carl Crawford (1999), Josh Hamilton (1999).

PULASKI

First year: 1946

Affiliations: Dodgers (1947-49), Phillies (1952-55, 69-75), Cubs (1957-58), Braves (1982-92), Rangers (1997-2001), Blue Jays (2002-06), Mariners (2008-14), Yankees (2015-present)

Championships: 5 (most recent, 2013)

Notable alumni

David Justice (1985), Steve Avery (1988), Mark Wohlers (1988-89), Javy Lopez (1989).

RECORDS OF NOTE

Batting average: Tony Oliva, Wytheville (.410 in 1961)

Home runs: Mitch Einertson, Greeneville (24 in 2004) and Joy Gritts, Wytheville (24 in 1960).

RBIs: James Walrath, Johnson City (84 in 1964)

Runs: Eric Campbell, Danville (77 in 2005)

Stolen bases: Rafael Furcal, Danville (60 in 1998)

Wins: Art Thompson, Morristown (13 in 1959)

Strikeouts: Arne Thorsland, Bluefield (180 in 1959)

Shutouts: Bob Sykes, Bristol (6 in 1974)

Saves: Manuel Mendez, Johnson City (19 in 1995)

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