ⓘ Rome Colonels
The Rome Colonels were a minor league baseball franchise based in Rome, New York from 1937–1942 and 1946–1951. The Colonels were preceded in Rome by the Rome Romans. Rome teams played as members of the New York State League, Empire State League and Canadian–American League. The Rome Colonels were an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics.
Minor league baseball started in Rome, New York in 1898. Playing at Riverside Park, the Rome Romans joined the Independent eight-team New York State League. The Rome Romans finished their initial season 43–51, 6th in the New York State League. Rome managers were Charles Faatz and Hobe Whiting.
The 1899 Rome Romans were the New York State League Champions. The New York State League became a Class C League in 1899, as Rome finished 76–32, 1st in the New York State League. The 1899 Rome Romans were managed by Tom OBrien and finished 8.5 games ahead of the 2nd place Utica Pent–Ups in the eight–team league, which had no playoffs.
In 1900, the Rome Romans finished 3rd, continuing play as members of the New York State League. Rome had a 1900 regular season record of 70–44 under Manager Tom OBrien.
The Romans played their final season on the New York State League in 1901. The Rome Romans finished their final season 62–47, 4th in the New York State League under Manager *George Wheeler. The Rome franchise folded from the New York State League after the 1901 season.
After a three season absence, minor league baseball returned to Rome in 1905. In 1905, Rome hosted a franchise in the Independent Empire State League, playing at Riverside Park. Rome finished 41–30, 3rd in the eight-team Empire State League. Rome folded after the 1905 season.
In 1937, the Rome Colonels franchise was formed. The Rome Colonels were founded and owned by local surgeon Dr. Dan Mellen, who would own the team through the 1949 season. The 1937 Colonels began play in the Class C Canadian–American League, as the league expanded from six teams to eight teams in its second season. The Rome Colonels would have a would have a fourteen year affiliation with the Canadian–American League. Their home ballpark in 1937 was League Park. The Rome Colonels finished their first season with a 40–59, 6th in the Canadian–American League. The Colonels were Managed by William Buckley and Joe Brown. Rome had season home attendance of 18.387, an average of 371 at League Park.
For the 1938 season, the Rome Colonels moved home games to the newly built Colonels Park, where the Colonels would play for the rest of their existence. Rome finished the 1938 Canadian–American League regular season in 5th place. Their regular season record was 61–63 under Manager William Buckley, missing the playoffs. Home attendance at Colonels Park was 51.363, an average of 828 per contest.
The 1939 Rome Colonels captured the Canadian–American League Championship. After finishing the regular season 68–54, 3rd in the Canadian–American League, Rome qualified for the playoffs. Led by Manager Admiral Martin, Rome began the 1939 Playoffs by sweeping the Cornwall Maple Leafs in four games. In the Finals, Rome faced the Amsterdam Rugmakers, who had won the 1939 Pennant by 12.0 games. Rome defeated Amsterdam 3 games to 2 and captured the championship. Rome had 1939 home attendance of 57.654, an average of 945.
Rome finished 7th in the 1940 Canadian–American League. Under Manager Admiral Martin, the Colonels finished with a regular season record of 50–73. Home attendance at Colonels Park in 1940 was 36.395, 592 per contest.
The Rome Colonels qualified for the 1941 Canadian–American League playoffs. Rome finished the 1941 regular season with a 66–58, 3rd in the league, playing under Manager Lee Riley. In the Playoffs, the Oneonta Indians defeated Rome 4 games to 2. Colonels Park season attendance was 42.828, an average of 691 per home game.
The 1942 season preceded a hiatus due to World War II. The 1942 Rome Colonels were an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Rome finished the regular season with a 38–85 record, 8th and last in the Canadian–American League. The 1942 managers were John Griffiths and Philip Clark. Continuing play a Colonels Park, the Colonels had 1942 season attendance of 19.819, 322 fans per game.
Canadian–American League minor league baseball returned in 1946, upon the conclusion of World War II. The Rome Colonels began their tenure as a Detroit Tigers affiliate, continuing play in the Class C Canadian-American League. Rome qualified for the Playoffs in 1946. After a regular season record of 72–52, Rome finihed 3rd in the Canadian–American League under Manager Woody Wheaton. In the Playoffs, the Trois Rivieres Royals defeated the Rome Colonels 4 games to 3. Continuing play at Colonels Park, Romes season Attendance: 58.371, an average of 941.
In 1947, the Rome Colonels finished 7th in Canadian–American League regular season, missing the playoffs. The Colonels finished with a 67–72 under managers Ed Boland and Adam Bengoechea. Playing as an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, Rome had a total season attendance of 58.463.
The Rome Colonels continued play as an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and captured the 1948 Canadian–American League Pennant. The Colonels finished with a regular season record of 79–57, to finish 1st in the Canadian–American League. The Colonels finished the Regular season 2.0 games ahead of the 2nd place Trois Rivieres Royals. Led by Manager Lefty Smoll, the 1948 Playoffs saw the Oneonta Red Sox defeat the Rome Colonels 4 games to 3. Playing at Colonels Park, 1948 season attendance was 75.103, an average of 1.104 per game.
The Rome Colonels played under Manager Lefty Smoll again in 1949. Rome finished 8th and last in the Canadian–American League in their final season as a Detroit Tigers affiliate. Their regular season record was 48–88, with the Colonels finishing 41.0 games behind the 1st place Quebec Braves. Playing as an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, Colonels Park had an overall attendance of 40.331 in 1949. In late 1949, Colonels founder and owner Dan Mellen sold the franchise to new local owners, the Copper City Sports Enterprises, headed by Isadore Kaplan.
The 1950 Rome Colonels finished 6th in the Class C Canadian–American League, playing unaffiliated. Playing under three managers, the Rome Colonels finished 51–86, under Managers Bill Gates, William Booker and Emil Gall. The Colonels drew 34.535 fans for the season.
The Canadian–American League folded following the 1951 season. Rome played their final season as a affiliate of the Philadelphia Athletics. Managed by Buck Etchison, the Rome Colonels had a record of 46–71, 5th in the Canadian–American League. Season attendance in 1951 was a total of 23.454, averaging 401 in their final season at Colonels Park.
After the 1951 season, Rome, New York has not hosted another minor league baseball team.
2. The ballparks
Early Rome Romans teams 1898–1901, 1905 played at Riverside Park. Riverside Park had a capacity 500, with a grandstand that measured 26 feet in width by 83 feet in length. Riverside Park was located at Parkway & Floyd Avenue In Rome, New York.
In 1937, the Rome Colonels played at League Park. The ballpark was located in West Rome and was also known as Murrays Park. The franchise made improvements to the ballpark for the 1937 season, before moving to the new Colonels Park in 1938.
Beginning in 1938, Rome played home games at Colonels Park. The Rome Colonels remained at the ballpark until folding in 1951. Colonels Park had a capacity of 3.500 1939 and 2.250 1942, with dimensions of: 360–380–320 1939. Colonels Park officially opened on May 18, 1938, after Colonels owner Dr. Dan Mellen had purchased six and one half acres and constructed the new palk, built with an approximate construction cost $15.000. The park was enclosed with a 7–foot board fence. The ballpark was located on Black River Boulevard between East Locust Street & East Pine Street. Today, the site is still in use as a public park with ballfields, now known as Franklyns Field.
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