development of professional baseball in the Daytona Beach area
can be dated back to 1920. City Island Ballpark hosted its first
professional baseball team when the Class D Florida State League
was established. In 1936, after closing for 8 years, the Florida
State League returned. The St. Louis Cardinals placed their farm
club here and named them the Daytona Beach Islanders. Hall-of-Famer
Stan Musial played for the team in 1940. He was a left-handed
pitcher who did it all for the team. In addition to wining 18
games, Musial batted .311 with 70 RBIs in 405 at-bats. Late in
the season, he fell in the sandy outfield and injured his
throwing shoulder. The incident ended Musial’s pitching career,
thus created his amazing hitting journey.
The Islanders had six seasons in Daytona Beach before World War
II brought a suspension of play. The team chose to affiliate
with the Brooklyn Dodgers when the ball games resumed. The
relationship lasted just one year, as the Islanders decided to
operate independently for the next three seasons. In 1950, the
City of Daytona Beach signed a contract with the Cleveland
Indians. Under Hall-of-Famer Charles “Red” Ruffing’s managing,
the team finished second in the league.
Four years later, the Isles decided to go back to its old
acquaintance—the St. Louis Cardinals, though the agreement was
valid for only a year. In 1955, the club went without any Major
League hook-up for the second and the last time. Manager Johnny
Vander Meer, the back-to-back no-hitter pitcher, helped Jon
Ivory Smith to set a league record with 320 strikeouts. In the
same year, first baseman Dan Smith became the only .400 hitter
in Florida State League history.
During the following decade, the Islanders switched their
affiliation back and forth with the Indians, the Cardinals, the
Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Athletics, and the Detroit
Tigers. In 1964, the franchise set a record—seven different men
managed the club in one year. Despite the high frequency of
transferring parent organizations, the name of the team remained
the same for 32 years. It wasn’t changed until the Dodgers,
which had moved to L.A, came back in 1968. The Daytona Beach
Dodgers stayed until 1973, much longer than the previous time.
From 1970 to 1972, the Daytona Beach Dodgers were managed by
Stan Wasiak. He went on to win more games than any other manager
in minor league history.
After three dark years, the diamond shined again in 1977 when
the Kansas City Royals put their Class A farm club in City
Island Ballpark. Though the Royals pulled their team out the
next year, the Houston Astros replaced them. They had a Florida
State League affiliation here through 1984. When the Astros left
in 1985, Daytona Beach remained in the Florida State League with
a co-operative team made up of players from the Baltimore
Orioles and Texas Rangers organizations. On the roster was Kenny
Rogers, who pitched a perfect game in the majors.
The co-op team was bought by the Rangers and moved away in 1987.
With the birth of a new team, Daytona Beach still stayed in the
Florida State League. The Chicago White Sox built a farm club
named the Daytona Beach Admirals here. However, the team moved
to Sarasota the next year. Pro baseball was deleted from the
local recreation list for the following five years.
There was no minor league team until the Chicago Cubs arrived in
1993. The team established their Advanced Class ‘A’ affiliation
with the Daytona Cubs. After the hurricanes of 2004 the ballpark
received a new “riverwalk” area for fans to enjoy before and
during all games. It also was upgraded with a manual-operated
scoreboard and new batting cages. Daytona has set new attendance
records in each of the past three seasons including the 2006
record of 147,677 fans at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. In 2007 the
Cubs hosted the Florida State League All-Star Game for the first
time since 1983. The Cubs also added a new feature "The
Budweiser Bullpen" to the park in June of 2007. We are looking
forward to serving the area for future decades to come.
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