Love sports? Love Richmond, Virginia? If so, then you have to check out a game from the Flying Squirrels the next time you visit. Here’s what you need to know about the history of this state based minor league baseball team.
All About the Flying Squirrels
The Flying Squirrels is a Minor League Baseball team located in Richmond, Virginia. The team is a part of the Eastern League and is a Double-A Affiliate of the San Francisco Giant major league club. Before their current name, the Squirrels were known as the Connecticut Defenders.
The Squirrels made their return to baseball in Richmond with just one-year of absence because of a relocation plan between them and the former Triple-A International League, the Braves, who moved to Lawrenceville, Georgia in 2009.
The Flying Squirrels started in 1972 and was a farm club of the New York Yankees and played games at Yale Field in West Haven, Connecticut, and in the West Haven Yankees club as well in Quigley Stadium. In 1980, the team moved to the Oakland Athletics and transformed into the West Haven Whitecaps for just one season, and then eventually changing to the West Haven A’s. A few years later, and the team again changed, this time becoming the Albany A’s when they moved to Captial District of New York and started playing at Heritage Park in Colonie.
In 1985, the Yankees yet again became their parent club, which promoted the team to become the Albany-Colonie Yankees where they would stay until 1994. That year, they moved their franchise to Norwich, Connecticut, and the team was renamed the Norwich Navigators. They played their season-opening game there in 1995 and won.
In the next six years, the team made their way to the Eastern League playoffs four times, with some of the current Yankees taking the helm of the team. In 2002, the Navigators went on to win their only Eastern League championship via a five-game series victory under rookie manager Luis Sojo.
But then, within a few weeks, the Yankees made an announcement at their affiliations with the Navigators was over, and they’d be starting a new team. However, in the fall of the same year, the San Francisco Giants signed on as a new parent club for them in 2003.
Two years later, and Lou DiBella bought the team. Eventually, the public was invited to decide on a new name for the team, and in 2005, the name selected was the Connecticut Defenders. A bald eagle named “Cutter” was the mascot, and the team was ready to go.
The giants renewed their contract with the Defenders until 2010. The Defenders played well but fell short in their championship series.
In 2009, the team announced they would be leaving Norwich to make Richmond, Virginia their new home. They lobbied for a new ballpark in the Richmond metro area, and the team was renamed Flying Squirrels. Once again, the name was selected via a publicly held contest.
Today you can catch a game at the Diamond and experience this team firsthand in Richmond, Virginia.
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