Winter Haven Red Sox

The Winter Haven Red Sox were a minor league baseball team in the Florida State League (FSL), based in Winter Haven, Florida, from 1969–1992.

Winter Haven Red Sox
(1966-1967, 1969-1992)
Winter Haven, Florida
  • Class A-Advanced (1990-1992)
  • Class A (1966-1989)
Minor league affiliations
LeagueFlorida State League
Major league affiliations
Minor league titles
League titles 1 (1979)
Team data
Previous names
  • Winter Haven Red Sox (1969-1992)
  • Winter Haven Mets (1967)
  • Winter Haven Sun Sox (1966)
  • Deerfield Beach Sun Sox (1966)
Previous parks
Chain of Lakes Park

Team historyEdit

The franchise began in 1966 in Deerfield Beach, Florida, as the Deerfield Beach Sun Sox, a Class-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. However, on June 27, 1966, the team moved to Winter Haven becoming the Winter Haven Sun Sox. It was the city's first entry in Organized Baseball since the 1919 Bartow Polkers played part of their home schedule in Winter Haven. The Sun Sox were managed by Don Bacon and Bruce Andrew and had a 55–83 record overall.[1][2]

In 1967, the Sun Sox were renamed the Winter Haven Mets after their new parent club, the New York Mets. The Mets posted a stellar 94–46 record, but were defeated by the St. Petersburg Cardinals for the western division title by two and a half games. Nolan Ryan, then 20, pitched for the 1967 team, appearing in one game as a starting pitcher and allowing one hit and one earned run in four innings pitched, with five strikeouts. It was Ryan's last year in the minors before he began his Baseball Hall of Fame big-league career.

The Mets left Winter Haven after only a single season, then the franchise lay dormant during 1968. In 1969, the Boston Red Sox, who had established their spring training home in Winter Haven in 1966, took over the Florida State League franchise. The Winter Haven Red Sox then played for the next 24 consecutive seasons. In 1983, 16 years after Ryan's one-game stint, Roger Clemens began his pro career with Winter Haven, winning three of four decisions in four starts, and striking out 36 in 29 innings pitched.

The Winter Haven Red Sox effectively folded after the 1992 season, when, after 27 years, the parent Red Sox moved their spring headquarters to Fort Myers and their FSL affiliate to Fort Lauderdale. Although the Cleveland Indians replaced the Red Sox as Winter Haven's spring training tenants from 1993 through 2008, they never revived an FSL franchise for the city.

The ballparkEdit

The team played home games at Chain of Lakes Park, located at 500 Cletus Allen Drive.[3] The park still exists as part of the Chain of Lakes Sports Complex.

Notable alumniEdit

Baseball Hall of Fame alumniEdit

Notable alumniEdit

Year-by-year recordEdit

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1966 55-83 8th Don Bacon & Bruce Andrew
1967 94-46 2nd Pete Pavlick
1969 76-53 3rd Rac Slider
1970 61-71 7th John K. Butler
1971 58-79 10th
1972 61-70 10th
1973 50-94 10th Al Lehrer
1974 59-71 6th (t) Rac Slider
1975 57-70 5th (t)
1976 65-76 6th
1977 70-66 5th
1978 82-56 2nd
1979 79-58 2nd League Champs
1980 60-80 10th
1981 62-77 9th
1982 59-74 8th Tom Kotchman
1983 49-83 9th
1984 70-74 8th Dave Holt
1985 71-68 7th
1986 80-47 2nd Lost in 1st round
1987 67-71 8th Doug Camilli
1988 45-94 14th
1989 52-87 13th Dave Holt
1990 40-94 14th
1991 43-85 14th Mike Verdi
1992 51-86 13th Felix Maldonado