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Fort Wayne Franchise History

August 30, 2011
Baseball has a rich history in Fort Wayne. The city hosted the first professional baseball game in history in 1871, welcomed Babe Ruth during a barnstorming tour and rooted for several pro teams through the early part of the 20th century. But when the Fort Wayne Chiefs left the Three-I League in 1935, it took nearly 60 years for the Summit City to regain Minor League Baseball. Living by the famous words, "If you build it, they will come," Fort Wayne leaders enticed professional baseball's return, then ushered in a new era that continues to play out today at Parkview Field.

In the early 1990s, Minor League Baseball as a whole was on the rise across the country, but the Kenosha Twins franchise was struggling. The Twins were drawing less than 1,000 fans per game to rickety Simmons Field, the oldest and smallest facility in the Class-A Midwest League. The ballpark was built in 1933 just a few blocks from Lake Michigan and fans attending games there were subject to the chilly winds off the lake. Then came a major challenge for the Twins: In 1991, Major League Baseball introduced the Facility Standards Agreement, a set of new requirements for minor-league facilities. Teams that had been getting by with bumpy playing surfaces, subpar lighting systems and cramped clubhouses would have to make costly upgrades before the start of the 1994 season or face consequences.

That same year of 1991, a group called United Sports, Inc., bought the Kenosha Twins. The group was led by New York City sports psychologist Dr. Eric Margeneau, who had brought a Midwest League team to South Bend, Ind., three years earlier. Margeneau first tried to drum up support to build a new ballpark in Kenosha. When he found the response underwhelming, he looked to move the franchise to towns such as Evansville and Anderson in Indiana, as well as Bloomington, Ill. The issue in each town, as it was in Kenosha, was the existence of a suitable ballpark.

During his search, Margeneau met with the Fort Wayne Sports Corportation. The group represented the Hoosier State's second-largest city, which boasted a rich baseball history but had been without affiliated professional baseball since 1948. In fact, pro baseball hadn't had a sustained presence in Fort Wayne since 1935. Margeneau saw potential in Fort Wayne, telling The News-Sentinel, "Given Fort Wayne's proximity and comparable size to South Bend, there would seem to be a likelihood of similar success." Fort Wayne's population was more than double that of Kenosha, but there was no existing facility in the area to host professional baseball. It was a dilemma: Without a place to play, a team would not commit to move to Fort Wayne. If a team would not commit to moving, building a new stadium was a costly risk. The city had tried to lure a Midwest League team in 1989, but the effort failed when plans to build a new ballpark didn't materialize. This time, officials evaluated market research and found it compelling enough to build a professional-quality ballpark in the Summit City. On Feb. 21, 1992, the Allen County Council approved a plan to build a $6 million stadium across the parking lot from the Memorial Coliseum. At around the same time, the necessary parties, including the Midwest League and the Major League Baseball Commissioner's office, approved the move of the Twins' franchise from Kenosha to Fort Wayne. With that, the wheels were set in motion for Minor League Baseball to arrive in Fort Wayne in the spring of 1993.

While the Twins played out the 1992 season in Kenosha, construction crews in Fort Wayne hustled to build the new ballpark. The official groundbreaking took place on June 2. The new front-office staff opened up shop in a temporary office in August. Two months later, team officials announced the winner of the "Name the Team" contest which drew 20,000 entries. The new team would be called the "Wizards."

While initial reviews for the name were mixed, the response to the team itself was not. Fans bought over 1,700 season tickets before Opening Day, then a MWL record. When single-game tickets went on sale that March, several fans spent the night outside the Memorial Stadium ticket office; it took just 15 minutes to sell out Opening Day. As the big day approached, officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Memorial Stadium. Margeneau told Ben Smith of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, "You know, in Kenosha, where we come from so to speak, we didn't get this many people for a baseball game."

Baseball officially retuned to Fort Wayne on April 19, 1993, after a week of road games. Memorial Stadium opened on a cold, damp, windy northeast Indiana evening, but the conditions did nothing to keep away a sellout crowd of 6,111. It did, however, keep one important visitor from arriving. Prior to the game, four skydivers were expected to land on field; only three did. The other, as chance would have it, was the one who was supposed to deliver the game ball. A gust of wind blew him off course; the on-field emcee joked to the crowd, "Wayne's gonna do some shopping in Auburn."

From that point on, Opening Night at Memorial Stadium went about as well as could be expected. Wizards starting pitcher Scott Moten christened the stadium in style, striking out the Peoria side in order in the first inning. Fort Wayne shortstop Ramon Valette cracked a home run in the third inning, the first in stadium history, and the Wizards beat Peoria, 7-2. Margeneau told Ben Smith of the Journal Gazette after the game, "I've had six baseball teams, and no community has ever responded in this way. Ever."

The Wizards opened their inaugural season with the tagline, "Amazing baseball." The team lived up to the sales pitch right away - in their first game (on the road at Waterloo, Iowa), the Wizards pulled off one of baseball's rarest feats, turning a triple play in a 4-3 victory. Fort Wayne has not turned another triple play since. In late May, Wizards catcher Rene Lopez hit for the cycle. In the next game, Lopez went 6-for-6 at the plate, setting MWL record for most consecutive at-bats with a hit (10) and most consecutive plate appearances reaching base (11). Lopez's cycle and six-hit game remain the only occurrences of those accomplishments in franchise history. That same week, Tim Costic hit an inside-the-park home run for the Wizards. On June 25, Gary, Ind., native RHP LaTroy Hawkins tied the MWL record by striking out eight straight hitters. Hawkins went on to set franchise records with 15 strikeouts in a game, 179 whiffs in a season, a 2.06 ERA (best single season for a starting pitcher in franchise history) and 15 wins in season (a record which stood until 2009). As a team, Fort Wayne remained competitive deep into the season. On August 14, the Wizards closed to ½ game behind the division leader in the standings, but it was the closest they would get. Fort Wayne lost six in a row and missed the playoffs. Perhaps more importantly for the city, the professional baseball experiment was paying off - attendance in the inaugural season was 318,506, then the third-highest total in MWL history.

While the inaugural season was mostly a pleasant one, the Wizards were occasionally reminded of their minor-league status. Before the team's first game of the season, the Wizards changed into their uniforms at the hotel instead of at the ballpark because, as manager Jim Dwyer told the Journal Gazette, the locker rooms at the ballpark in Waterloo, Iowa, were "so filthy dirty." The Waterloo general manager later told Dwyer the team was expected to change at the ballpark under a new Midwest League rule. On the way back from a road trip to Illinois in mid-May, the team bus broke down just east of Gary at 1:30 in the morning. Two and a half hours later, another bus picked up the Wizards and delivered them to Fort Wayne - they arrived at around 6:30 a.m.

The Summit City was treated to its share of star power in 1994. On April 24, Appleton Foxes SS Alex Rodriguez hit his first professional home run at Memorial Stadium. Less than two weeks later on May 5, the Wizards hosted an exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins, who had the night off from regular-season play. Future Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield signed autographs for fans at Memorial Stadium; Puckett won a home run derby prior to the game and then lined out in his first at-bat, hitting the ball so hard it left an imprint of seams on the second baseman's hand. Not long after, 18-year-old OF Torii Hunter made his Wizards debut; he hit .293 with 10 home runs that season and went on to play in four MLB All-Star Games, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves.

The Midwest League All-Star Game came to Fort Wayne on June 20, 1994. A crowd of 5,020 filled Memorial Stadium as future major-leaguers including Kevin Millar, Billy Wagner, Raul Ibanez and Sal Fasano littered the rosters and legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell visited the press box. Fasano won the Home Run Derby in an unconventional fashion - after tying for the lead with two home runs in regulation, a playoff round couldn't decide a winner, so the winner was decided by a coin flip, which Fasano won. He made his major-league debut two seasons later, went on to play 11 seasons in the big leagues and eventually returned to the MWL in 2010 as the manager of the Lansing Lugnuts.

The Wizards made their first playoff appearance in 1995, led by MWL Prospect of the Year C Javier Valentin and 3B Corey Koskie's 58 extra-base hits, still a franchise record. The city would have to wait two more years for its first playoff series victory, but it would be memorable. The 1997 West Michigan Whitecaps posted the best record in the minor leagues, going 92-39 in the regular season with future major-leaguers INF Robert Fick and RHP Francisco Cordero on the roster. The Wizards swept the Whitecaps in two games to earn the franchise's first playoff series win in upset fashion, but lost in the next round.

The 1998 Wizards were led by 19-year-old SS Michael Cuddyer, rated the top high-school player in the country in 1997 when the Twins drafted him in the first round. Cuddyer committed a franchise-record 61 errors, but had an outstanding year at the plate and went on to become a starter on numerous Minnesota Twins playoff teams. On Opening Day in South Bend, the Wizards hit two grand slams in a 12-run third inning and dropped the Silver Hawks, 12-4. That August, the Wizards again tortured South Bend when pitcher Joe Thomas nearly authored the first no-hitter in the franchise's history. With one out in the ninth inning, Thomas allowed an infield single; he struck out 13 Silver Hawks in 5-0 win. A franchise-record eight players were selected to play in the MWL All-Star Game in Clinton, Iowa. In total, eight players from that year's Wizards squad made it to the major leagues.

Following the 1998 season, the Wizards switched affiliation, signing a two-year Player Development Contract with the San Diego Padres on Sept. 22. The team had gone 425-400 and made the playoffs three times in six years as a Twins affiliate. Players who were assigned to Fort Wayne during the Twins era include RHP LaTroy Hawkins (1993), OF Matt Lawton (1993), OF Torii Hunter (1994), C A.J. Pierzynski (1995-96) and INF Michael Cuddyer (1998).

Less than two months after finding a new parent club, the Wizards found themselves under new ownership. On November 2, 1998, United Sports Ventures announced the sale of team to General Sports and Entertainment. The team introduced a new logo and mascot: a dragon named "Dinger," who replaced Wayne the Wizard.

The Padres era at Memorial Stadium was much like the Twins' time there: more notable for individual players' achievements than team accomplishments. Despite the contributions of top prospect 3B Sean Burroughs, who hit a franchise-record .359, the Wizards posted their worst record ever (61-79) in their first season as a Padres affiliate in 1999. Worse, a franchise-low 201,395 fans came through the turnstiles. The team rebounded in all facets in 2000 thanks in large part to RHP Jake Peavy, who went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA. RHP J.J. Trujillo anchored the bullpen with a league-record 42 saves. Both eventually made it to the major leagues; Peavy went on to win the 2007 National League Cy Young Award.

In 2001, Wizards manager Tom Lawless was fired by the Padres during the season and replaced by Don Werner. Meanwhile, LHP Oliver Perez turned heads with an 8-5 record and a 3.46 ERA. Perez made his MLB debut with San Diego the following year.

The 2002 season was marked by Jon Benick's three-homer game against Quad City on July 3. It was the first time a Wizard had clubbed three home runs in a single game. The following season, Steve Baker hit grand slams on back-to-back days, June 7-8 against Peoria. Despite Baker's outburst, the 2003 Wizards were notable for their low-scoring style: the pitching staff posted the lowest ERA (3.02) in team history, but the hitters sputtered with the lowest team batting average in franchise history (.233), the fewest hits, homers and runs scored in a single season and were shut out a team-record 15 times.

RHP Dirk Hayhurst pitched for the Wizards in 2004, going 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA. Hayhurst made his major-league debut in 2008, but may have gained more fame from his career as a writer. The former Wizard penned The Bullpen Gospels, Hayhurst's account of life on and off the field as a minor-league baseball player.

On the field, the Wizards put together good-but-not-great seasons in the mid-2000s; they made the playoffs each season in 2003-06 but were eliminated in the first round each year. The Padres assigned little-known RHP Joakim Soria to Fort Wayne in August 2006. He made seven dominant appearances for Fort Wayne, was plucked by the Royals months later and pitched his way to the American League All-Star team in 2008.

Meanwhile, Memorial Stadium was quickly becoming a relic. State-of-the-art when it opened in 1993, the ballpark had fallen behind the times by the mid-2000s. The need for upgrades became more and more apparent - on one occasion after a storm dumped substantial rain on Memorial Stadium, Wizards manager Doug Dascenzo was sitting in his office when the ceiling partially caved in. Ballparks around the country were slowly evolving. Plain, utilitarian facilities were replaced by social hotspots, centerpieces for urban development. Downtown ballparks revitalized major-league cities like Denver, Cleveland and Baltimore and minor-league teams tried to do the same in markets including Indianapolis, Dayton and Toledo.

In 2006, Fort Wayne took steps to following the trend. On Feb. 20, the Wizards were sold to the Atlanta-based Hardball Capital group. As the year progressed, city leaders began to explore the possibility of building a new ballpark in downtown Fort Wayne as part of an effort to stimulate the downtown economy. On December 21, 2006, the City of Fort Wayne announced plans for a project called Harrison Square which included a $30-million ballpark, to be built downtown. In April 2007, city and team officials signed an agreement to make downtown baseball a reality within two years.

While construction was planned, the Wizards finished out their final two seasons at Memorial Stadium. They posted a franchise-worst 55-84 record in 2007, but played several memorable games along the way. In the first game of a doubleheader against Great Lakes on June 27, Wizards pitcher Steve Delabar missed the franchise's first no-hitter by allowing a two-out base hit in the seventh (and final) inning. Less than a month later, pitcher Steven Faris held a no-hitter into the seventh inning on his way to a one-hit shutout win against Clinton.

Following a tough 2007 season on the field, signs of a downtown future surfaced. Ballpark construction kicked off with a ceremonial groundbreaking on November 29. Project manager Jim Irwin told Indiana Business Magazine it would be "the most innovative minor-league stadium in America. The owners have visited over 60 minor-league stadiums and are putting all the best ideas into this one stadium." Those ideas included a rooftop picnic area similar to those at Wrigley Field, a seating section above the left-field wall designed after Fenway Park's Monster Seats and lawn seating which would cost fans only $5 per ticket, more affordable than any ticket at Memorial Stadium. Construction workers lowered the final beam of the ballpark's metal skeleton into place in July 2008, but much work remained to be done.

The Memorial Stadium era ended on August 28, 2008. Norwell High School graduate RHP Jarrod Parker fired five scoreless innings for South Bend and the Silver Hawks trounced the Wizards, 17-6, before a crowd of 6,106. The Wizards went 613-506 in 16 seasons at Memorial Stadium. That home-field advantage would pale in comparison to what awaited the franchise at its new downtown park.

On the day the 2008 Midwest League playoffs ended, Parkview Health announced it would be the new park's naming sponsor. The name "Parkview Field" was born. Three weeks later, the Wizards were renamed the Fort Wayne TinCaps in an apple-themed nod to pioneer Johnny Appleseed, who lived in Fort Wayne and was buried in the city. As was the case in 1993 when the Wizards name was revealed, the reviews of the new nickname were mixed, but shortly thereafter the emblem was voted best new logo in Minor League Baseball on On October 13, the field itself took its initial form as sod was installed at Parkview Field. On December 4, fans got a glimpse at what the team would wear - the TinCaps unveiled their uniforms and opened merchandise sales at the Glenbrook Square Mall.

One by one, Parkview Field's amenities were finished as the inaugural season approached. On February 20, 2009, workers flipped on the power switch to a 1,400-square-foot video board for the first time. Fans who were used to no video at Memorial Stadium would be treated to what was billed as the second-largest screen in Minor League Baseball. Four days after the video board switched on, single-game tickets went on sale; within 27 minutes the entire seating bowl was sold out for Opening Day.

When April arrived, so did the start of perhaps the most successful season in franchise history. The Padres sent a highly-touted team to Fort Wayne which featured three first-round draft picks and the 2008 Northwest League MVP, outfielder Daniel Robertson. The club lived up to the hype right from the start. The TinCaps went undefeated on a season-opening six-game road trip to Lansing and Wisconsin. They arrived home from the trip on April 15 to find crews working late into the night at Parkview Field on the eve of the home opener, applying finishing touches. When the staff finished, 16 months of construction and countless hours of planning had come to an end; the Parkview Field era was set to begin.

The weather on April 16, 2009, was outstanding for northeast Indiana at that time of year: upper 60s and sunny. Crowds gathered well before the ballpark's gates opened 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Pre-game festivities included a thunderous F-16 fly-over by the Indiana Air National Guard 122d Fighter Wing (the "Blacksnakes"). After several ceremonial first pitches, left-hander Nick Schmidt threw the first pitch of the game at 7:29 p.m., a ball to Dayton's Dave Sappelt. Schmidt allowed a single and a walk to start the game, then struck out the next three Dragons in order to end the first inning. The first TinCaps hit came in the bottom of the second, when third baseman James Darnell smashed a line drive just over the left-field wall for a two-run home run. The TinCaps went on to shut out the Dragons, 7-0, before a crowd of 8,208. Fort Wayne's unbeaten streak lived on for another three nights before it was snapped at ten, the longest winning streak in franchise history.

The TinCaps received additional jolts of talent early in the season. In late April, outfielder Jaff Decker, the 2008 Arizona Rookie League MVP, arrived from extended spring training. Just over a week later, pitcher Mat Latos was added from extended spring training. They both made themselves right at home. Latos worked six dominant relief innings the day he stepped off the plane and went 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA during his 18 days with the club. He was promoted directly to Double-A San Antonio on May 20, was named a Texas League All-Star and pitched in the Futures Game. When Latos made his major-league debut on July 19, he became the first player in franchise history to go from Fort Wayne to the major leagues in the same season. Decker, meanwhile, blasted a home run onto the Treetops Rooftop Party Area beyond right-field wall on May 10. He would be a key cog in the batting order for the remainder of the season.

The highlights kept coming throughout the first half. The TinCaps won five games in walk-off fashion before the All-Star break, including two on back-to-back nights in June. The first was a 13-inning marathon that was delayed almost two hours by rain. When the 12th inning ended in a 3-3 tie, the umpires informed both teams that the 13th inning would be the last played that night due to the Midwest League's curfew rule. The TinCaps shut out Dayton in the top of the inning and Decker blooped a game-winning single into right field to end the festivities just after 1 a.m. local time. The following night, the TinCaps needed only ten innings to dispose of Dayton, 5-4, with Kevin Hansen providing the game-winning base hit.

The TinCaps never fell to more than eight games over the .500 mark during the first half of the season, but were still neck-and-neck with West Michigan throughout. With four games left to play in the half, Fort Wayne clinched a playoff berth; the TinCaps locked up a first-half division championship three days later and finished the half with a 45-25 record, the best for any half-season in the franchise's history.

Five TinCaps appeared in the 2009 Midwest League All-Star Game in Clinton, Iowa. Decker was also voted onto the roster, but missed the game due to a strained back. Outfielder Sawyer Carroll went 4-for-4 and was named the Star of Stars.

With a playoff spot in hand, the Padres opted to promote several key players to higher levels, including the Opening Day starting pitcher (Schmidt) and three power hitters (Carroll, Darnell and first baseman Matt Clark). Despite the losses in personnel, the TinCaps kept piling up the wins in the second half. In fact, they led the Eastern Division from wire to wire, going 49-21 to break their own record and streak into the postseason. On August 18, RHP Simon Castro made more history when he fired the first no-hitter in franchise history, going seven innings against Dayton in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Castro narrowly missed a perfect game; he hit a batter while striking out nine Dragons. RHP Colin Lynch showed the pitching staff could handle a bat when he was forced into hitting duties on July 22 at Kane County. Lynch, who had already pitched two perfect innings in relief, was inserted into the batting order after the designated hitter was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with an umpire. Lynch came to the plate in the top of the tenth inning with Fort Wayne leading, 2-0, and looped an RBI single over the first baseman's head. In addition to his 1.000 career batting average, Lynch was rewarded with the win on the mound. Fort Wayne finished the regular season with a 94-46 record, the best in Minor League Baseball that season and the best in the Midwest League since 1987.

The TinCaps opened the playoffs with a best-of-three first-round matchup against South Bend. In Game 1, Castro worked 6.2 hitless innings, but tired and walked back-to-back hitters before leaving the game. Fort Wayne held on to win on the road, 3-1. The Silver Hawks bounced back in Game 2 at Parkview Field, scoring nine runs in the third inning on their way to a 12-7 victory, their first at Parkview Field all season. Decisive Game 3 came down to the wire. Trailing 4-2 going to the bottom of the eighth, Fort Wayne loaded the bases with a triple and back-to-back two-out walks. Infielder Vince Belnome drove in a run with a single, cutting the margin in half. Cole Figueroa followed by slashing a two-run double into the left-field corner to put the TinCaps in front, 5-4. All-Star closer Brad Brach gave up a hit in the top of the ninth, but closed it out to end the series.

The TinCaps moved on to play Great Lakes, a Dodgers affiliate which had developed a rivalry with Fort Wayne as they battled throughout the season. Game 1 at Dow Diamond was a slugfest; the TinCaps took four different leads but could not hold any of them despite a talented bullpen. Leading 9-6 going to the bottom of the ninth, Fort Wayne turned to Brach, who was 35-for-36 in save opportunities. Three batters later, the game was tied on Loons infielder Jaime Pedroza's towering three-run homer. The TinCaps took another lead in the top of the 11th thanks in part to a Great Lakes error, but the Loons took advantage of a pair of walks as they scored the game-tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the frame. Outfielder Jerry Sands' single to left gave the Loons an 11-10 win and the lead in the series. The following night at Parkview Field, the TinCaps avoided elimination in a 9-4 win. Pitchers Stiven Osuna and Rob Musgrave, who struggled at times during the regular season, combined to hold the potent Loons to four hits and third baseman Justin Baum hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give Fort Wayne breathing room. Each team sent its ace to the mound in Game 3. Castro went toe-to-toe with Loons southpaw Aaron Miller; by the time both were finished, the game was tied 1-1 after six innings. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth and facing Great Lakes closer Cole St. Clair, Fort Wayne tied it on Belnome's two-out RBI double to center. Brach made amends for his rough Game 1 outing with a pair of scoreless innings, bringing the TinCaps to the plate in the bottom of the tenth needing a run to win. Robert Lara, a backup catcher who was in the lineup thanks to an injury to starter Adam Zornes, led off. He was hitless in his previous 15 at-bats ("I was hitting so bad," Lara later admitted). He worked the count full against St. Clair. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Lara hit a high liner toward the gap in left-center which barely crept over the railing and out of the park, sending Parkview Field into pandemonium. Manager Doug Dascenzo later remarked that the crowd's reaction as Lara high-stepped around the bases was as loud as many of the cheers he heard during his major-league playing career. The improbable home run sent Fort Wayne into its first-ever Midwest League Championship Series.

In the best-of-five MWL Championship Series, Fort Wayne matched up against the Burlington Bees, a Royals affiliate which had posted a losing record in the regular season. The TinCaps scored half their runs in the sixth inning of a series-opening 6-2 win at Parkview Field. The following night, Carmel, Ind., native pitcher Chris Fetter led the way in a four-hit shutout and first baseman Allan Dykstra homered as Fort Wayne blanked the Bees, 2-0. After the game, the last of the season at Parkview Field, the 6,269 fans saluted the TinCaps with a standing ovation. It was a final send-off as the team prepared to play the rest of the series in Iowa. A night later, Fort Wayne finished the series sweep with a 4-3 victory in Burlington. Decker smacked a two-run homer in the fifth and the bullpen worked 3.2 scoreless innings to hold on. When Brach struck out the final batter of the game, it set off a dogpile celebration on the mound and gave Fort Wayne its first-ever Midwest League championship.

The TinCaps arrived back in Fort Wayne the next day with a police escort to Parkview Field. Once there, team president Mike Nutter, Dascenzo, Robertson and Lara (among others) took the microphone at a public celebration, each thanking the fans for their support throughout the season.

Fan support was at an all-time high in 2009. Attendance figures shattered franchise records that had stood for more than a decade. The season attendance of 378,529 broke the previous mark, set in the franchise's inaugural season of 1993, by almost 20 percent. The team also broke single-game attendance records for regular-season (8,572) and playoff (6,269) games. The front-office staff was awarded the Midwest League President's Trophy and and Nutter was named the league's Executive of the Year.

On the field, the TinCaps were named's Minor League Team of the Year. Decker was named the Class-A Player of the Year by Baseball America. Dascenzo shared Midwest League Manager of the Year honors. Brach, who finished with 36 saves, was voted a Midwest League full-season All-Star as a right-handed reliever.

In addition, the team's total of 101 wins (regular season and playoffs combined) tied the Midwest League record.

With a tough act to follow, the 2010 TinCaps went 77-63 and made the playoffs, losing to Great Lakes in the first round. The TinCaps narrowly missed making a dubious bit of history on May 6 when they were one strike away from being no-hit for the first time in franchise history, but catcher Jason Hagerty lined a two-out single in the ninth inning to spoil the Bowling Green Hot Rods' no-hit bid. Parkview Field also hosted the 2010 Midwest League All-Star Game, featuring top prospects including Cedar Rapids outfielder Mike Trout, West Michigan pitcher Jacob Turner and Burlington catcher Wil Myers. TinCaps pitcher Jerry Sullivan drew the starting nod; he delivered a scoreless first inning and picked up the win as the Eastern Division triumphed, 6-2. Right-hander Matt Lollis joined the club in late July and helped push Fort Wayne into the playoffs, going 5-2 with a 1.66 ERA in nine starts. Shortstop Jonathan Galvez etched his name into the franchise record book when he cracked three home runs in a game against Peoria on July 22; Galvez had only hit two home runs all season prior to that game.

Off the field, the TinCaps broke their own attendance record in 2010, topping the 400,000 mark for the first time. Following the season, the franchise was named Fort Wayne's Large Business of the Year by the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. The TinCaps laid groundwork for the future by extending their Player Development Contract with the Padres for two years (through 2012), then announced they would host a four-game series between the Triple-A Tucson Padres and the Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A Toronto Blue Jays) in 2011.

In 1993, the Fort Wayne baseball franchise made its debut under the motto of "amazing baseball." Since then the team has evolved from Wizards to TinCaps, but countless players, staffers and fans have ensured that baseball in Fort Wayne remains as amazing as ever.


Fort Wayne Wizards 1993 Yearbook

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

USA Today Baseball Weekly, April 14-20, 1993

Fort Wayne Sports: Yesterday & Today, 1994

1995 MWL Yearbook