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Canton Crocodiles

First season: 1997

Years in league: 1997-2001

Ballpark: Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium

Canton's Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium had been home to the Canton-Akron Indians in the Eastern League before the ballpark was left vacant with the construction of Canal Park in Akron. The Frontier League came to town in the form of the Canton Crocodiles in 1997. The Crocs were an expansion team, replacing the defunct Zanesville Greys.

The club was a success both on and off the field as the Crocodiles won the second half and then swept both Johnstown and Evansville to claim the Frontier League championship. This marked the fifth consecutive season that a team in its first year of existence won the title. The Crocodiles also were strong at the gate, drawing 75,000 fans, good for second in the league and at the time the highest figure for any city except Evansville. Mike Amer won Most Valuable Pitcher for his 6-2 record and league-leading 2.28 ERA.

The Crocodiles qualified for the playoffs again in 1998 by finishing second in both halves but were eliminated by in-state rival Chillicothe. Last-place finishes the next two seasons led to a decline in attendance, as the Crocs in 2001 drew only 25,000, barely a third of their attendance of a few years earlier.

The team rebounded in a big way in 2001. Pitching was strong as southpaw Joe Thomas had tremendous season leading the league with a 1.36 ERA to go with a 9-0 record for a league-record 1.000 winning percentage. In June, Eric Montoya and Sam Goure both pitched no-hitters, four days apart! The offense was not forgotten, as shortstop Clay Snellgrove took the batting title with a .364 mark. The Crocs qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the season, but were again eliminated by Chillicothe.

Two new ballparks combined with continued low attendance to spell the end for the Crocs. The former Canton-Akron Indians now played in a new stadium in downtown Akron, and Falconi Field in Washington, PA was under construction and waiting for a Frontier League franchise. The Canton Crocodiles were that franchise, and the seeds of on-field success sown in Canton in 2001 were reaped in Pennsylvania over the next two years.

Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium in Canton, OH, home of the Canton Crocodiles, was built in 1989

 

Year   Won   Lost   GB   Finish   Attendance   Manager   Playoffs First Round   Playoffs Second Round
                                 
1997   20   20   5   2E(T)   75,503   Mike Burton   Beat Johnstown 2-0   Beat Evansville 2-0
    25   15   --   1E                
1998   22   18   1   2E   64,519   Theron Todd   Lost to Chillicothe 2-1    
    19   20   6   2E                
1999   33   51   21   6E   50,295   John Zizzo        
2000   38   46   10   6E   25,123   Dan Massarelli (17-29)/Jeff Isom (21-17)        
2001   47   37   4   3E   29,703   Jeff Isom   Lost to Chillicothe 2-1    

Major Award Winners:

1997 Mike Arner, Most Valuable Pitcher

1997 Mike Burton, Manager Of the Year

Crocodiles Post-Season All-Stars:

1997 OF Danny Johnson; P Mike Arner

2000 C Shaun Argento; P Drew Thomas

2001 SS Clay Snellgrove; OF Jon Weber

Players on FL Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team:

C Shaun Argento (2000-01)

C Steve Mitrovich (1997)

P Joe Thomas (2001)

Franchise Player:

C Shaun Argento (2000-01) caught for the Crocs their last two seasons in Canton. He hit .305 in 2000. Shaun moved with the Crocodiles to Washington, where he had a productive 2002 season. Argento was named to the Frontier League's Tenth Anniversary All-Star team.

Crocodiles in the majors: none