When I was a kid in the mid-1980s, I spent a lot of time watching, playing, reading about, and thinking about sports. I was truly obsessed. That obsession led me to taking the logical next step of writing letters to major and minor league teams to get pocket schedules, team information, and whatever else they happened to send back to me. We didn’t have the internet back then where I could get this information in approximately 30 seconds, like we do now. I had to put pencil to paper, buy a stamp, and drop an actual letter into the mailbox. (Thanks for assist USPS!) The cool stuff I received in return – which I absolutely treasure – has been sitting in waterproof boxes for the better part of 35 years. I’ve looked at it often, but I haven’t shared the stuff before now. Enjoy!
The third team into the Time Machine is the 1985 Oklahoma City 89ers. The “Niners” were named after the great Oklahoma land rush of 1889 which saw unoccupied lands in what is now Oklahoma opened up completely to white settlement. I’m sure that 89ers sounded like a great name when it was first introduced, but by current standards and with what we know about the land rush, it stinks. The team (hopefully realizing that the name was horribly outdated) changed its name to the “RedHawks” in 1998 and used that name until 2015 when the team became the Oklahoma City Dodgers after affiliating with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 1985 version of the 89ers was an affiliate of the Texas Rangers and played in the old American Association, so we see teams that look familiar today to fans of the Triple-A East. Interesting that OKC is the only member of the old American Assoc. to be in the Triple-A West. The Niners sent along a few cool things including this schedule:
I’m always interested to look at the start times of games from the 80’s and years prior. I can’t imagine a team starting a game at 7:30 pm these days given the length of games – even MiLB games – is around three hours. But hey, back then they could be done well before 10 pm and get everyone home timely.
The team sent along a some stickers, which they apparently thought that a 13-yr-old would use and not keep for 30+years:
The art on the envelope is pretty cool. The fact that they used the pillbox cap for the team on the logo is cool, and I think they were the only team to use it consistently on the field aside from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985. Love the mustache too!
And finally, the business card of the kind man who packaged all of these goodies up and sent them my way. I am eternally grateful to Mr. Wells for taking the time to read a letter and respond to a kid from Ohio. If anyone knows Mr. Wells, please pass along my thanks.
That’s it for Minor League Time Machine, Part Three. Please pardon some of the camera angles as it was tough to unfold the paper items and keep them flat after so many years tucked away. We will be back with Part Four soon. I still have a LOT of stuff to share. If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it.