The Danville 97s were a minor league baseball team based in Danville, Virginia for the 1998 season only. They were a baseball team that played in the Carolina League and were affiliated with the Atlanta Braves for their lone 1998 season. Prior to the 97s, the Durham Bulls were the Braves High-A affiliate from 1980-1997 which that team also played in the Carolina League. The 97s played home games at the American Legion Field. Following the 1998 season, the franchise relocated to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to become the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
After Durham was added to the expansion of Triple-A baseball, the Durham Bulls then joined the International League as an expansion franchise and switch affiliates to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, acquiring the Devil Rays’ new Triple-A squad. The Atlanta Braves Carolina League squad which was part of the Durham Bulls franchise from 1980-1997 would relocate to form a new franchise. However, the new franchise would not be granted as an expansion franchise. The location of the Braves’ new Carolina League affiliate would need to be determined. The two strongest contenders were Myrtle Beach and Williamsburg, Virginia. As a result of Williamsburg not having a facility ready for the 1998 season, Danville developed a plan to house the team temporarily while the stadium was completed.
By October 1997, the league gave the Bulls permission to let go of the Carolina League squad and relocate them to Myrtle Beach to form a new franchise. However at this time, Myrtle Beach would not have a new stadium complete in time for the 1998 season. After an agreement was reached with Appalachian League, as the team would share the same stadium with the Danville Braves for a portion of the season, Danville was selected as the temporary home for the new franchise. The city was selected due to its previously developed plan as well as the Braves' organization's familiarity with the community. For their lone season, the team was owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Company of Raleigh and managed by the Danville Braves, Inc.
On October 21, 1997, the team name "Danville 97s" was announced. The name pays tribute to the victims of the infamous Wreck of the Old 97, which had the reputation as the fastest regularly scheduled train in the world at the time of its fatal wreck in 1903. The team would finish last in the Carolina League during their lone season in 1998, when Jason Marquis began the season as the youngest pitcher in the Carolina League, but won only 2 of 22 starts for Danville,as he went 2-12 and struck out 135 in 114.2 innings, while walking only 41. The team completed its move to Myrtle Beach to become the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in time for the 1999 season.
Season-by-season results Edit
|1998||97s||Carolina||High-A||Atlanta Braves||58-82||Paul Runge|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Uthman, Daniel. "Double play: Baseball will be twice as nice in Danville", The Roanoke Times, April 7, 1998, pp. E7.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Staff Reports. "Danville picks name", The Roanoke Times, October 22, 1997, pp. B6.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Staff Reports. "The Durham Bulls will be replaced for the 1998 Carolina League season by the Danville 97s", The Durham Herald-Sun, October 24, 1997, pp. B2.
- ↑ The Baseball Cube, Stone (1998). 1998 Danville 97s Statistics. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.