Looking Back Over 30 Seasons
LARGEST SINGLE SEASON HOME ATTENDANCE:
1: 1992;387,815;72 dates; 5,386 average
2: 1993;386,310;71 dates; 5,441 average
3. 2008; 374,780;71 dates; 5,279 average
4: 2007;371,676;72 dates; 5,162 average
5: *1983;365,848;75 dates; 4,878 average
6: 2006;365,659;72 dates; 5,079 average
Las Vegas Franchise Team History: Looking Back Over 30 Seasons (1983-2012): Las Vegas Triple-A baseball, of the Pacific Coast League, has provided exciting family entertainment to the city for three decades (1983-2011). Initiating professional baseball in Cashman Field, a crowd of 13,878 fans jammed the stadium on April 1, 1983, for a Major League exhibition game between the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. PCL baseball was born in Las Vegas on April 10, 1983, before a crowd of 10,622. The then-Stars, in their brown, gold and burnt orange uniforms, defeated Salt Lake City, 11-8. Las Vegas, under manager Harry Dunlop, posted a regular season 83-60 record, the team's best mark which stood for 19 seasons until the 2002 51s broke the all-time record of 85-59 (.590). Outfielder Kevin McReynolds, the 1983 PCL MVP, set the tone for the caliber of players, which would appear yearly in the talent laden PCL. Manager Larry Bowa guided the Stars to their first PCL crown in 1986 with an 80-62 record and Steve Smith led Las Vegas to its second PCL title in 1988. The 1983 Stars team were inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame on June 8, 2007.
The most prominent players, through the first decade, that appeared in Las Vegas uniforms included: Sandy Alomar, Jr., the two-time PCL MVP (1988-89), Roberto Alomar, Andy Benes, Bruce Bochy, Carlos Baerga, Jerald Clark, Joey Cora, holder of the franchise record with a 37-game hitting streak, Ozzie Guillen, Tony Gwynn (rehab assignment), Andy Hawkins, John Kruk, Rick Lancellotti, holder of the single-season franchise record with 131 RBI, Joe Lansford, Shane Mack, Tim Pyznarski (1986 PCL MVP), Bip Roberts, and Benito Santiago.
The Triple-A All-Star Game was held at Cashman Field on July 11, 1990. The National League defeated the American League, 8-5, before a crowd of 10,323. The highlight to the finale of the first decade of Las Vegas Triple-A baseball occurred during the 1992 season. Right-hander Tim Worrell, on Sept. 5, hurled the first no hitter by a Las Vegas pitcher in Cashman Field history. He dominated the Firebirds in his final regular season start.
The Las Vegas franchise established a player development agreement with the San Diego Padres for the first 18 years of the team's existence (1983-2000). From 1993-2000, Las Vegas advanced to the PCL playoffs once (1996) and finished below .500 six times. The 1996 season, under the helm of Jerry Royster, was marred by the death of Mike Sharperson. The date of May 26, 1996, will forever be etched in the history of the franchise. Sharperson, #15 jersey was later retired, was killed in a one-car accident off of Interstate-15/215. The team rallied behind their popular fallen teammate, and put together a 42-30 second half record to earn a post-season berth.
The most prominent players in the second and third decades of the franchise included: J.P. Arencibia (2010 PCL MVP), Homer Bush, David Cooper (2011 PCL batting champion), the late Mike Darr, Ben Davis, Rob Deer, Eric Gagné, Joey Hamilton, Dustin Hermanson, Phil Hiatt (2001 PCL MVP), Kevin Higgins, Wally Joyner, Matt Kemp, Brett Lawrie, Derrek Lee, Keith Lockhart, James Loney (2006 PCL and Minor League batting champion), Russell Martin, Randy Ruiz (2009 PCL MVP), Terry Tiffee (2008 PCL batting champion), Eddie Williams, who set a franchise record with four home runs and 10 RBI against Calgary on April 22, 1998, and Worrell.
The beginning of the 21st century also signified a changing of the guard for the franchise. Las Vegas announced a new player development agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2001), a franchise rich in tradition. The team also unveiled a new alien themed logo, based on the semi-secret government base known as "Area 51" which is located 160 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Media reports of UFO sightings and alien activities have been rumored at the base. The team nickname was changed from the Stars to 51s.
The Dodgers spent eight seasons in Las Vegas (2001-08) and many of their top prospects played with the 51s. Las Vegas advanced to the PCL playoffs just once over that time. Left-hander Lindsay Gulin, on June 13, 2003, against Tacoma, hurled the second no-hitter by a Las Vegas pitcher in Cashman Field history.
Over the eight seasons, fans had an opportunity to watch Dodger stars: Adrian Beltre (2001), Paul Lo Duca (2001), Kevin Brown (2002), Dave Roberts (2003), Hideo Nomo (2004), Jayson Werth (2004-05), Milton Bradley (2005), Eric Gagné (2005-06), Brad Penny (2005), Odalis Perez (2005), Cesar Izturis (2006), Rafael Furcal (2008), Nomar Garciaparra (2008), Andruw Jones (2008) and Juan Pierre (2008) play at Cashman Field on Major League rehabilitation assignments.
Las Vegas then spent four seasons as the top farm club of the Toronto Blue Jays (2009-12). The 51s compiled an overall record of 287-288 (.499) during that tenure. Las Vegas, on September 17, 2012, announced a "new" PDC with the New York Mets for two seasons (2013-14).
FIRSTS IN LAS VEGAS BASEBALL HISTORY. . .
Game, W, 11-8 vs. Salt Lake City (4/10/83)
Home Game, W, 11-8 vs. Salt Lake City (4/10/83)
Home Win, W, 11-8 vs. Salt Lake City (4/10/83)
Home Loss, L, 8-1 vs. Tacoma (4/16/83)
Series Sweep, Salt Lake City (4/10-14/83)
Road Win, W, 8-4, at Hawaii (4/25/83)
Road Loss, L, 6-3, at Hawaii (4/23/83)
At Bat, Joe Pittman vs. SLC (4/10/83)
Home Run, Bruce Bochy vs. SLC (4/10/83)
Stolen Base, Joe Pittman vs. SLC (4/10/83)
First Pitch, Andy Hawkins vs. SLC (4/10/83)
Pitching Win, Tim Cook vs. SLC (4/10/83)
Cashman Field Sellout, 10,622-Opening Day (4/10/83)
Largest Cashman Crowd, 13,217 vs. Tacoma (4/16/83)
League Championship, 1986