Saturday, December 16

10 Historical Facts About The Durham Bulls Baseball Team

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  1. The leagues: The minor league Durham Bulls baseball team of Durham, North Carolina, has been in five different regional leagues over the years. In 1902, the team was a member of the North Carolina League. From 1913 to 1917, the team joined the North Carolina State League. From 1920 to 1933 and then again from 1936 to 1943, the Bulls were in the Piedmont League. The Bulls were in the Carolina League from 1945 to 1971 and then again from 1980 to 1997. Since 1998, the team has been in the International League.
  2. No show: For 12 years, the Durham Bulls did not strictly exist, at least in name. In 1968, the team combined with a ball club from Raleigh, North Carolina, to form the Raleigh-Durham Mets. Then in 1971 the team folded altogether. It would not be until 1980 that the Durham Bulls were revived as a baseball franchise.
  3. Honor: Through all the years, this baseball team has only retired one jersey number. That number is 18, and it belonged to Hall of Famer Joe Morgan who played for the Bulls in 1963.
  4. Stardom: This baseball team became famous with the release of the 1988 movie Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. The Bulls played a major part in the movie, almost a character unto itself. Costner played veteran catcher “Crash” Davis and Robbins played up-and-coming pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh.
  5. Mmm, steak: As is seen in the movie Bull Durham, there was a large wooden bull  sign on the outfield wall and if a batter hit the bull with a ball, the batter won a free steak. The tradition has continued, though the original wooden bull has been replaced.
  6. New home: In 1995, the Durham Bulls got a new ballpark. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park became the new home of the Bulls, who had played nearly all home games in the older Durham Athletic Park, which still exists to this day and is used for concerts, festivals and college baseball games.
  7. Blast from the past: In May 2010, the Bulls returned for one game to the old Durham Athletic Park, playing the Toledo Mud Hens. Plans are supposedly in the works for the Bulls to return to the old park for other games, perhaps one per season.
  8. Early beginnings: The team that would eventually become the Bulls was known as the Durham Tobacconists and formed in 1902. Unfortunately, they played only one season before the league collapsed. But the team would live again, this time as the Durham Bulls, in 1912.
  9. Major links: The Durham Bulls have been affiliate for ten different major league teams over the years. In 1933, the team was an affiliate of the New York Yankees. From 1936 to 1940, with the Cincinnati Reds. From 1941 to 1943, the Brooklyn Dodgers. From 1945 to 1947, the Boston Redsox. From 1948 to 1961, the Detroit Tigers. From 1962 to 1966, the Houston Astros. From 1967 to 1968, the New York Mets. From 1980 to 1997, the Atlanta Braves. From 1998 to present day, the Tampa Bay Rays.
  10. Lots of class: The Bulls have played at five different class levels of baseball over the years. In 1902, then from 1913 to 1917 and then again in 1920, the team was Class D. From 1921 to 1931 and then from 1945 to 1948, Class C. From 1932 to 1933, 1936 to 1943, 1949 to 1962, the team was Class B. From 1963 to 1967 and 1980 to 1997, the Bulls were Single-A. From 1998 to present, the Durham Bulls are a Triple-A ball club.

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