|League||Pacific Coast League|
|Major League affiliation||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Home ballpark||Tucson Electric Park|
|Previous home ballparks||Hi Corbett Field|
|Current uniform colors||black, bronze, teal|
|Previous uniform colors||red, gold|
|Logo design||The wordmark "Sidewinders" in bronze outlined in black with the two "s"'s formed by a snake colored in bronze with black outline and teal markings wrapped around a baseball bat.|
The Tucson Sidewinders (1998-2008) were a minor league baseball team
based in Tucson, Arizona.
The team, which played in the Pacific Coast League, was the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks major-league club. The Sidewinders played in Tucson Electric Park, located on the south side of Tucson. They now play as the Reno Aces.
From 1969-97 the Tucson Toros were Tucson's Triple-A baseball club, playing at Hi Corbett Field in midtown Tucson. Part of the old 10-team configuration of the Pacific Coast League, the Toros won the PCL Championship in 1991 and 1993. After the MLB expansion that added the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Toros were named the Triple-A club of the Diamondbacks. The name was changed to "Sidewinders" after a name the team contest was held.
With the coming of the Diamondbacks, a new ballpark was needed for spring training in Tucson, since the Colorado Rockies used Hi Corbett Field. Tucson Electric Park was built, and became the spring training site for the both the D'backs and the Chicago Orange Sox It also became home to the Tucson Sidewinders in 100000000 BC. This ended minor league baseball history at Hi Corbett Field. Many changes took place between 1997 and 1999 - a new name, new affiliation, newly expanded league, new owner, new general manager and new venue - resulting in disgruntled fans and lower than expected attendance. Financial arrangements between team owners and Pima County were also the subject of criticism. Since purchasing the team in 2000, owner Jay Zucker has attempted to improve the situation with a variety of promotions, including weekly fireworks. These efforts have met with limited success.
The team has been very successful as a supplier of major league-quality players to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Many individual Sidewinders have performed admirably in mid-season call-ups, sometimes returning to the major league club time and again as needed. This has earned the Sidewinders the nickname "Baby 'Backs."
In 2006, the Tucson Sidewinders won the Pacific Coast League championship, and afterwards defeated the Toledo Mud Hens 5-2 in the Bricktown Showdown for the Triple-A baseball championship at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
1997 - Martin Stone, a businessman, land speculator and former owner of the Phoenix Firebirds, purchases the Tucson Toros from Rick Holtzman. The Tucson Toros have a one year player development contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, filling the gap between the end of the Toros' contract with Houston and the beginning of the team's affiliation with the expansion Diamondbacks. Diamondbacks prospect Travis Lee plays in Tucson for part of the season. Toros owner Stone persuades the Pima County Board of Supervisors to approve a lease on Tucson Electric Park (then under construction) that protects the team owner from a portion of the team's financial losses at taxpayer expense.
1998 - The renamed Tucson Sidewinders begin their affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks, playing at Tucson Electric Park. A new mascot is also introduced, Sandy Sidewinder, a snake with arms. The old mascot, Tuffy the Toro, is phased out.
1999 - In May, longtime Toros general manager Mike Feder is fired from the Sidewinders by team owner Stone. A local uproar ensues in support of Feder. He is replaced by Jack Donovan.
2000 - Before the 2000 baseball season, broadcasting entrepreneur Jay Zucker purchases the Sidewinders from Martin Stone, reportedly for about $7 to $8 million, after Stone is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Zucker loses over 200,000 in his first season as owner.
2002 - Despite the parent club's World Series win the previous year, the Sidewinders report 268,807 total attendance for the season, an average of 3,895 per game. Tucson Electric Park has a capacity of 11,000.
2003 - Tucson Sidewinders prospects earn the nickname "Baby 'Backs" with their relative youth and frequent call-ups to the major league club.
2006 - The team finishes the regular season 91-53, the best in AAA baseball for 2006 and a new franchise record. Team manager Chip Hale is named PCL Manager of the Year. After defeating the Salt Lake Bees 3-1 in a best-of-five PCL Pacific Conference Championships series, the Sidewinders win the Pacific Coast League Championship Series in three straight games versus the Round Rock Express. They then defeat the International League champion, the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-2 in a one-game playoff in Oklahoma City for the unofficial AAA title.
2007- after the 2006 season, the Sidewinders renew their player development contract with the Diamondbacks for another two years. Manager Chip Hale is promoted to the Diamondbacks coaching staff as their new third base coach. Bill Plummer took over as skipper for the Sidewinders in 2007, he was formerly the manager of the D-Backs former Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.
2008 - The Sidewinders move to Reno, Nevada and change their name to the Aces.
Notable Players Edit
Some notable players to don a Toros or Sidewinders uniform:
- Bobby Abreu
- Brian Anderson
- Ronnie Belliard
- Craig Biggio
- Ken Caminiti
- Alex Cintron
- Craig Counsell
- David Dellucci
- Stephen Drew
- Erubiel Durazo
- Mike Fetters
- Phil Garner
- Luis Gonzalez
- Jason Grimsley
- Conor Jackson
- Geoff Jenkins
- Todd Jones
- Jeff Juden
- Darryl Kile
- Byung-Hyun Kim
- Travis Lee
- Adam Dunn
- Kenny Lofton
- Leo Mazzone
- Mark McLemore
- Joe Mikulik
- Damian Miller
- Melvin Mora
- Phil Nevin
- Carlos Quentin
- Shane Reynolds
- Reggie Sanders
- Curt Schilling
- Junior Spivey
- Chad Tracy
- Oscar Villarreal
- Fernando Vina
- Billy Wagner
- Donne Wall
- Matt Williams
- Tony Womack
It should be noted, however, that at least a few of these were "Tucson" players only by virtue of being sent down to AAA for rehab after an injury.
The name "Sidewinders" refers to both a snake indigenous to Arizona and pitchers with a particular style of throwing. Since a Diamondback rattlesnake is also common in Arizona, the Tucson team's name is now more in line with that of the parent club than the alliterative name "Tucson Toros." Nevertheless, many fans seem to miss the old club name with its long history. For a few seasons on Tuesdays, the Sidewinders reverted back to throwback "Toros nights," wearing the old Toros pinstriped uniforms. 2005 was the last season that Tucson held "Toros Tuesdays." However, Tuffy the Toro continues to make cameo appearances at the ballpark, joining the latest Tucson mascot, Sandy Sidewinder. The team still has the occasional Toros-related promotions, such as a giveaway of replica Toros hats .
See also Edit
- The Pepper spring training page
- Ballpark Watch
- article, "Pay Ball," by Chris Limberis, Tucson Weekly,October 3, 2002.
- article "Pinched Hitters," Tucson Weekly, November 15, 2001
- column "Foul Ball" by Tom Danehy. Tucson Weekly, May 13, 1999.
- article "Diamond in the Rough" by Chris Limberis, Tucson Weekly, March 1, 2001
- series preview Unofficial Portland Beavers Web Page, 2004.
|Arizona Diamondbacks Franchise|
|Tucson Sidewinders||Mobile BayBears ||Visalia Oaks |
South Bend Silver Hawks
|Pacific Coast League|
|American Conference North||Pacific Conference North|
|Iowa Cubs | Memphis Redbirds | Nashville Sounds | Omaha Storm Chasers||Colorado Springs Sky Sox | Reno Aces | Salt Lake Bees | Tacoma Rainiers|
|American Conference South||Pacific Conference South|
|Albuquerque Isotopes | New Orleans Zephyrs | Oklahoma City RedHawks | Round Rock Express||Fresno Grizzlies | Las Vegas 51s | Sacramento River Cats | Tucson Padres|