The Huntsville Stars were a minor league baseball team of the Southern League, which served as the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics from 1985 to 1998 and Milwaukee Brewers from 1999 to 2014. The franchise was located in Huntsville, Alabama and named for the space industry with which Huntsville is economically tied (NASA conducts operations at the nearby Marshall Space Flight Center).
|Minor league affiliations|
|Southern League (1985–2014)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Previous||Milwaukee Brewers (1999–2014)|
Oakland A's (1985–1998)
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1985, 1994, 2001|
|Division titles||1985, 1986, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007|
|Nickname||Huntsville Stars (1985–2014)|
|Colors||blue, red, gray, white|
|Mascot||Homer the Polecat (1995-2014)|
|Ballpark||Joe W. Davis Stadium (1985–2014)|
The Stars played their home games at Joe W. Davis Stadium, named after the former mayor of Huntsville; built in 1985, the park seats 10,200 fans and is sometimes referred to as "The Joe." The Stars won the Southern League championship in 1985 and 1994 as the Double-A affiliate of the Athletics, and in 2001 with the Brewers.
In January 2014, the Stars were sold to an ownership group, which relocated the team to Biloxi, Mississippi in November 2014, upon which the team became known as the Biloxi Shuckers. The Shuckers played a few home games in Huntsville in 2015 while their new ballpark in Biloxi was being completed. The Shuckers did not retain the Stars' history, opting to act as a newly established franchise.
Athletics era (1985–1998)Edit
The Stars came to Huntsville by way of Evansville, Indiana, and Nashville, Tennessee. In July 1984, Larry Schmittou, president of the Double-A Southern League's Nashville Sounds, and other members of the team's ownership group purchased the Evansville Triplets of the Triple-A American Association. After the 1984 season, Schmittou moved the Triplets franchise to Nashville, where it would adopt the Sounds' name and history, effectively elevating the Sounds organization to Triple-A and leaving Nashville's existing Southern League franchise without a home. The Southern League wanted Schmittou to surrender his franchise to the league, but he had plans to relocate the team instead. He wanted to send Nashville's existing Southern League franchise to Evansville to continue as the Triplets at Double-A, but a combination of the league's disapproval of the move and the City of Evansville being unwilling to upgrade Bosse Field resulted in the move to Huntsville. The city, led by Mayor Joe W. Davis, agreed to build a brand new 10,000-seat multipurpose stadium which lured the franchise to town, where it began play in 1985 as the Huntsville Stars, still under the ownership Schmittou and other Sounds shareholders. The Triplets' legacy was retired, and the Stars began with a clean history, much like an altogether-new franchise.
The Stars began play in the Southern League as the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics with Don Mincher as the team's General Manager. Mincher, a Huntsville native and 12-year veteran of the major leagues, guided the franchise through its infancy as they won the Southern League championship in their first season. The Stars won the league championship by defeating the Charlotte Knights, three games to two. Future superstar José Canseco won the Southern League Most Valuable Player Award that year.
Terry Steinbach won the MVP Award in 1986 solidifying the base of the A's championship teams of the late 1980s. That same season, the Stars met the Columbus Astros in the championship series, losing the series, two games to three.
In 1994, Mincher and a group of local investors purchased the team from Schmittou to keep baseball in Huntsville. The Stars once again won the Southern League title that season. Led by Ernie Young, the Stars swept the Chattanooga Lookouts to win the Western Division, then defeated the Carolina Mudcats, three games to one, to take the title. In 1997, the Stars made another appearance in the league championship series losing to the Greenville Braves, three games to two.
Brewers era (1999–2014)Edit
Following the 1998 season, the Stars and A's parted ways and the Milwaukee Brewers came to town as the new Stars affiliate. Long regarded as having one of the best Minor League systems around, the Brewers struggled through management changes but still managed to give the Stars their third Southern League title in 2001. With the help of all-time Stars home run leader Josh Klimek, the Stars made the playoffs and went on to defeat their rivals, the Birmingham Barons, in the fifth game of the series for the Western Division crown. The Stars would face the Jacksonville Suns, who dominated the Eastern Division winning both halves and the first round, but due to the September 11 attacks, the championship series was cancelled and the Stars and Suns were declared co-champions.
In 2000, Mincher became the Interim President of the Southern League when League President Arnold Fielkow left for the NFL. At the conclusion of the 2000 season, Mincher and his group put the Stars up for sale once again. He resigned from his position as President of the Stars and the Southern League removed the "interim" tag to make him league president for 2001. Pulling double duty until the team was sold, Mincher desired to keep the Stars in Huntsville. The group waded through countless offers to buy the Stars looking to find the right investors who would commit to keeping the team in the Tennessee Valley. Early in 2001, Mincher found his man in New York attorney Miles Prentice who also owns the Double-A Texas League Midland RockHounds, serves as a Director for the Texas League, and is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Minor League Baseball. Prentice promised to keep the team in Huntsville despite several offers for new stadiums in various locales.
In 2003, the Stars played against the Carolina Mudcats in the Southern League championship series where they lost three games to two. They made another championship attempt in 2006, losing three games to two against the Montgomery Biscuits. In 2007, Stars manager Don Money was named the Southern League's Manager of the Year as voted upon by the league's field managers, radio broadcasters, and print media. Also in 2007, the team captured its division title (beating the Tennessee Smokies three games to two) and went on to the SL championship series where they lost to Montgomery, three games to two.
To start the 2008 season, the Stars set a new team record for best start, by sweeping their first series with the Mississippi Braves 5 games to nothing to start the season 5–0. On April 26, 2008, the Stars turned their second triple play in franchise history, the last coming in 2002. The Stars won the 2009 first-half title, qualifying them for the playoffs, but lost the North Division Title to the Tennessee Smokies, 1–3. In their final season, the Stars won the North Division 2014 first-half title but fell to the Chattanooga Lookouts 3-2 in the best-of-five North Division title series.
Move to BiloxiEdit
Shortly before the team's thirty-first campaign in Huntsville, the franchise was sold to an ownership group based in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Stars played the 2014 season in Huntsville, but announced the expected move to Biloxi shortly after its conclusion. Because of delays in the construction of Biloxi's MGM Park, the Shuckers plan to stage fifteen "home games" at Joe Davis Stadium in April and May 2015.
|Huntsville Stars Season-by-Season Record|
|Record||Win %||Finish*||Record||Win %||Result|
|1985||78–66||.542||2nd||6–3||.667||Won Western Division Championship vs Knoxville Blue Jays, 3–1|
Won SL Championship vs Charlotte Orioles, 3–2
|1986||78–63||.553||1st||5–4||.556||Won Western Division Championship vs Knoxville Blue Jays, 3–1|
Lost SL Championship vs Columbus Astros, 2–3
|1987||74–70||.514||1st||0–3||.000||Lost Western Division Championship vs Birmingham Barons, 0–3|
|1989||82–61||.573||2nd||1–3||.250||Lost Western Division Championship vs Birmingham Barons, 1–3|
|1992||81–63||.563||2nd||1–3||.250||Lost Western Division Championship vs Chattanooga Lookouts, 1–3|
|1994||81–57||.587||1st||6–1||.857||Won West Division Championship vs Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–0|
Won SL Championship vs Carolina Mudcats, 3–1
|1997||77–62||.554||1st||5–5||.500||Won West Division Championship vs Mobile Bay Bears, 3–2|
Lost SL Championship vs Greenville Braves, 2–3
|1998||72–68||.514||2nd||0–3||.000||Lost West Division Championship vs Mobile Bay Bears, 0–3|
|2001||75–63||.543||3rd||3–2||.600||Won West Division Championship vs Birmingham Barons, 3–2|
SL Championship series vs Jacksonville Suns canceled due to September 11, 2001 attacks.
Both teams are declared co-champions.
|2003||75–63||.543||1st||5–5||.500||Won West Division Championship vs Birmingham Barons, 3–2|
Lost SL Championship vs Carolina Mudcats, 2–3
|2006||67–71||.486||4th||4–3||.571||Won North Division Championship vs Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–0|
Lost SL Championship vs Montgomery Biscuits, 1–3
|2007||75–62||.547||3rd||5–5||.500||Won North Division Championship vs Tennessee Smokies, 3–2|
Lost SL Championship vs Montgomery Biscuits, 2–3
|2009||63–75||.457||5th||1–3||.250||Lost North Division Championship vs Tennessee Smokies, 1–3|
|2014||77–63||.550||4th||2–3||.400||Lost North Division Championship vs Chattanooga Lookouts, 2–3|
|Totals||2,049–2,024||.503||–||44–46||.489||3 League Championships|
|Note: * Finish denotes their position in the overall league standings.|
Notable former playersEdit
- John Axford
- Tim Belcher
- Mike Bordick
- Michael Brantley
- Ryan Braun
- Scott Brosius
- Greg Cadaret
- Lorenzo Cain
- José Canseco
- Eric Chavez
- Nelson Cruz
- Alcides Escobar
- Prince Fielder
- Yovani Gallardo
- Jason Giambi
- Ben Grieve
- Tony Gwynn, Jr.
- Bill Hall
- Mitch Haniger
- J. J. Hardy
- Corey Hart
- Ramón Hernández
- Tim Hudson
- Stan Javier
- Darren Lewis
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Mark McGwire
- Brad Nelson
- Charlie O'Brien
- Manny Parra
- Wily Peralta
- Luis Polonia
- Jean Segura
- Ben Sheets
- Terry Steinbach
- Adam Stern
- Miguel Tejada
- Todd Van Poppel
- Carlos Villanueva
- Rickie Weeks
- Walt Weiss
- Wally Whitehurst
- "Southern League Champions". Southern League. August 3, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
- "Huntsville Stars". Bush League Factor. June 20, 2009. Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- Hill, Benjamin (November 24, 2014). "Biloxi's new team has a name: the Shuckers". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
- Schmittou, Larry (1985). Message from the President. The Nashville Sounds 1985 Official Souvenir Program. Nashville Sounds. p. 8.
- Bibb, John (July 12, 1984). "Big Leagues Next: Schmittou". The Tennessean. Nashville. p. 1-F. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- Woody, Larry (1996). Schmittou: A Grand Slam in Baseball, Business, and Life. Nashville: Eggmann Publishing Company. p. 101–102. ISBN 1-886371-33-4.
- Pollock, Brett. "Stars Start Season With Series Sweep." Huntsville Stars. April 7, 2008. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
- 2010 Media Guide (PDF). Huntsville, AL: Huntsville Stars. April 8, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "Stars Retire No. 5 in Honor of Mincher." Archived January 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Huntsville Stars. June 6, 2008. June 11, 2008.