- West Virginia Power
West Virginia Power
Founded in 1987
Charleston, West Virginia
- Class A (1987–present)
Minor league affiliations
- South Atlantic League (1987–present)
- Northern Division
Major league affiliations Name
- West Virginia Power (2005–present)
- Charleston Alley Cats (1995–2004)
- Charleston Wheelers (1987–1994)
Ballpark Minor league titles League titles 1990 Division titles 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2007, 2008 Owner(s)/Operated by: Palisades Baseball Manager: Gary Robinson General Manager: Joe Payne
This article is about the baseball team, for the electric utility serving southeast West Virginia from 1986-99, see Allegheny Energy.
The West Virginia Power is a minor league baseball team of the South Atlantic League, and is the Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are located in Charleston, West Virginia. The team plays their home games at Appalachian Power Park; opened in 2005, the park currently seats 4,500 fans.
Before current era (1910–83)
The history of professional baseball in Charleston dates back to 1910, and a team known as the Charleston Statesmen of the long-forgotten Class D Virginia Valley League. In 1911, the Statesmen moved to the Class D Mountain State League, and them folded after that year. A new team, the Charleston Senators was formed in 1914 and lasted three seasons in the Class D Ohio State League. In 1931, a new Senators team joined the Class C Mid-Atlantic League as an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. This team lasted until 1943. In 1949, the Senators were reformed as a member of the Class A Central League. In 1952, the city was granted a franchise in the Triple-A American Association. This team was affiliated with first the Chicago White Sox, then the Detroit Tigers, and finally the Washington Senators. In 1958, the Senators won the American Association championship. The franchise ceased operations after the 1960 season.
In 1961, the city had no team, but the Triple-A International League San Juan Marlins, affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, moved to the city at mid-season due to a hurricane which destroyed their ballpark. The team returned to Puerto Rico after the season. In 1962, the Charleston Indians, affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, moved to the city in the Class A Eastern League, and in 1963 that league was elevated to Double-A. The team folded after the 1964 season.
Baseball returned to the city in 1971 with the Charleston Charlies of the International League. The Charlies played in the International League from 1971-76 as the relocated Columbus Jets franchise (the franchise returned to Columbus in 1977 and were renamed the Columbus Clippers), and from 1977-83 as the former Memphis Blues. They were affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates for their first six seasons, then the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and finally the Cleveland Indians. The team won the league championship in 1973 and 1977. The Charlies left for Maine following the 1983 season, and, after several moves, is today located in Moosic, Pennsylvania.
Today the Power sell nostalgic "throwback" merchandise from the Pittsburgh affiliated era of the Charlies, which is generally considered the pinnacle of the baseball in the city. However, neither the Senators, Charlies, nor the Wheelers championships are acknowledged in the park in any way.
Current era (1987–present)
In 1987, the city resumed minor league baseball after a three year absence. The new team was first called the Charleston Wheelers, so named for the city's history of stern- and side-wheeled boats. The Wheelers began as a co-op team, with players from several Major League Baseball franchises including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves.
In 1988, the franchise became the Chicago Cubs' third full-season Class A franchise (the other two being Peoria in the Midwest League and Winston-Salem in the Carolina League). The only two players on that 1988 squad to reach the Major Leagues were SS Alex Arias and C Matt Walbeck.
In late 1993, the Wheelers were purchased from then-owner Dennis Bastien by a conglomerate of owners. The team changed its name to the Charleston Alley Cats in 1995 and switched colors from blue and white, with green trim, to grey and red, with black trim. The team was purchased in 2001 by Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers. In 1995, the team changed affiliation to the Kansas City Royals, again in 2001 to the Toronto Blue Jays, to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2004 season, before joining the Pirates in 2009. Prior to the 2005 season, they adopted their current West Virginia Power name. To quote the team's announcement following their decision to change the team name:
"West Virginia is and will continue to be recognized as one of the leading energy providers for the country. The energy production from coal, natural gas, and hydro-electric sources, combined with the fact that Charleston serves as the center for the state's political and economic powers led us to the name of the team. We felt it was extremely important that the name reflect the entire region and are excited about the tremendous marketing opportunities that will go along with the name."
The Power won the 2007 SAL Northern Division title, but lost in the league championship series to the Columbus Catfish in three-straight games.
Charleston Wheelers (South Atlantic League) Year Regular Season Post-season Record Win % Finish* Record Win % Result 1987 66–73 .475 7th — — — 1988 51–86 .372 11th — — — 1989 58–76 .433 10th — — — 1990 77–66 .538 ?? 5–0 1.000 Won North Division Championship vs Fayetteville Generals, 2–0
Won SAL Championship vs Savannah Cardinals, 3–0
1991 92–50 .648 1st 0–3 .000 Lost SAL Championship vs Columbia Mets, 0–3 1992 77–64 .546 3nd 2–3 .400 Won North Division Championship vs Spartanburg Phillies, 2–0
Lost SAL Championship vs Myrtle Beach Hurricanes, 0–3
1993 76–64 .543 4th — — — 1994 65–75 .464 8th — — — Sub-Totals 562–554 .504 — 7–6 .636 1 SAL Championships Charleston AlleyCats (South Atlantic League) Year Regular Season Post-season Record Win % Finish* Record Win % Result 1995 77–65 .542 6th — — — 1996 58–84 .408 12th — — — 1997 76–62 .551 2nd 3–2 .600 Won Quarterfinal vs Cape Fear Crocs, 2–0
Lost Semifinal vs Delmarva Shorebirds, 1–2
1998 44–96 .314 14th — — — 1999 61–80 .433 13th — — — 2000 53–80 .398 14th — — — 2001 51–87 .370 16th — — — 2002 61–79 .436 15th — — — 2003 57–76 .429 12th — — — 2004 84–56 .600 3rd 0–2 .000 Lost North Division Championship vs Capital City Bombers, 0–2 Sub-Totals 622–765 .448 — 3–4 .429 0 SAL Championships West Virginia Power (South Atlantic League) Year Regular Season Post-season Record Win % Finish* Record Win % Result 2005 60–78 .435 6th — — — 2006 74–62 .544 3rd — — — 2007 82–54 .603 3rd 2–4 .333 Won Northern Division Championship vs Hickory Crawdads, 2–1
Lost SAL Championship vs Columbus Catfish, 0–3
2008 77–62 .554 6th 3–3 .500 Won Northern Division Championship vs Lake County Captains, 3–0
Lost SAL Championship vs Augusta GreenJackets, 0–3
2009 67–70 .489 4th — — — 2010 65–74 .468 10th — — — 2011 69–69 .500 8th — — — Sub-Totals 491–469 .511 — 5–7 .417 0 SAL Championships Totals 1,747–1,857 .485 — 15–17 .469 1 League Championship Note: * Finish denotes their position in the overall league standings.
Current rosterWest Virginia Power roster
- 30 Elias Diaz
- 49 Kawika Emsley-Pai
- 22 Dan Grovatt
- 35 Rogelio Noris
- 24 Mel Rojas
- 2 Andy Vasquez
- 17 Cole White
- 45 Gary Robinson
- 14 Dave Howard (hitting)
- 44 Dave Turgeon (pitching)
- 6 Gerardo Alvarez (coach)
The Alley Cats and their predecessors played in Watt Powell Park in the Kanawha City neighborhood of Charleston. Seating approximately 4,500 fans, Watt Powell Park was bordered by MacCorkle Avenue on the front (north) side, 35th Street on the east, and South Park Road on the west. On the south side of the park, a ridge of hills formed a natural boundary. Fans who would otherwise have had to pay to see the games periodically watched the action from a CSX railroad line hard up against the south wall of the stadium.
The Power now plays its home games in Appalachian Power Park at the east edge of downtown Charleston, a little more than a mile and across the Kanawha River from Watt Powell Park. Most of the financing for the $23 million stadium came from the state and the city, although the ownership team put up approximately $5 million. The city's share came mostly from the sale of Watt Powell Park to the nearby University of Charleston, which immediately sold two-thirds of the land to Charleston Area Medical Center, the region's largest hospital. Originally, the new park was to be completed for the 2004 season, but politically induced delays in securing state funds forced construction to be put off for a year. The new park opened in April 2005.
Notable former players
- Jeremy Affeldt (former Alley Cats player)
- Ryan Braun - On May 24, 2007, Braun became the first former West Virginia Power player to get to the majors, and later in the year he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after leading the league in slugging percentage. The following three years he was an NL All Star.
- Carlos Corporan Got his first major league hit strangely off Cincinnati Reds shortstop Paul Janish.
- Robinzon Díaz (former Alley Cats player)
- Alcides Escobar - He picked up his first hit in his first career at-bat in the same game, a single against Scott Schoeneweis of the New York Mets.
- Yovani Gallardo - The former Power pitcher made his Major League debut on June 18, 2007.
- Mat Gamel - He recorded hist first career hit, a double, on September 7, 2008 off of Chris Young of the San Diego Padres.
- Trevor Hoffman - Major League Baseball all-time save leader. Played for the Wheelers in 1990.
- Hernán Iribarren - Infielder/outfielder who made his debut on April 12, 2008.
- Matt LaPorta
- Jason LaRue (former Alley Cats player)
- Pokey Reese (former Wheelers player)
- Alex Ríos (former Alley Cats player)
- Ángel Salomé - He was called up to the majors for the first time on September 1, 2008, and made his debut two days later with a fly out as a pinch-hitter.
- Joe Thatcher - The left-handed pitcher made his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres on July 26, 2007.
- Dan Wilson (former Wheelers player)
- Six Power home runs in one inning versus the Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League record)
- Ten home runs in one game versus the Lexington Legends (Seven home runs by Power, also a SAL record)
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