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Saturday, March 06, 2021

We found them: They’re the worst team ever

Fleming Field was the appropriately abysmal home of possibly the worst team in the history of paid play. They were called the Yonkers Hoot Owls, and their story is a lot like the movie “Major League” … albeit without the uplifting arc or happy ending. In amenities, in attendance and in the independent Northeast League’s standings, the Hoot Owls were dead last, then dead altogether. They lived for just a single, financially ruinous summer.

And yet, while changing into their uniforms in foul territory, mowing their own outfield grass and traveling to road games on a rickety school bus with no air conditioning, the Hoot Owls formed friendships and memories no record can reflect.

“We sucked,” says first baseman Peter Bifone. “But it was the funnest year of my life.”

This is a story about the lengths people will go to pursue their baseball dreams. It’s the story of baseball in Yonkers. And what a hoot it was.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 06, 2021 at 12:33 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: independent leagues

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   1. John Northey Posted: March 06, 2021 at 09:20 PM (#6007852)
Fun article to read. Although as it says, they weren't the worst ever, just a really bad team (barely over 200) with a really poor field and worse luck.
   2. tbe8797 Posted: March 07, 2021 at 09:20 AM (#6007858)
Great article. Fleming Field is an abomination. They have actually built a nice turf field (shared with soccer) up a hill right above it. My son has played semi-pro ball on both of them for many years and separated his shoulder diving for a ball on the rock-hard original field, which is not suited for any level of baseball, much less a professional team.
   3. depletion Posted: March 07, 2021 at 10:37 AM (#6007860)
I greatly enjoyed reading this as well. Nice to read that the participants landed on their feet. Particularly Randye, who worked like a fiend, then got burned by "owner". If you're a Paul Blair fan, this is a must-read.
   4. puck Posted: March 07, 2021 at 01:06 PM (#6007872)
Agreed, good article.

Are we headed for more of these stories, only with greater financial losses with the new independent leagues? I guess it would be hard to see one of those teams drawing only 170/game, but I'm guessing there will be much larger investments in fields and operations and so forth.

That said, I'm looking forward to catching a game with one of those teams refurbed out of Pioneer league. They are also Strigiformes (Northern CO Owlz).
   5. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: March 10, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6008143)
The short version on Wikipedia, an article I contributed to.

I saw the Owls play in Newburgh, NY in 1995 and chatted with one of the Yonkers players at the concession stand. He said he had an offer to play in the United League, which sadly never happened. (Why, yes, I wrote that article, too!)
   6. dave h Posted: March 10, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6008145)
I played college baseball for a horrible team (in D3 no less). We lost all 84 of our conference games over my 4 years. (The streak lasted about 30 years in total.) It was probably the best thing I did in college.

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