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Kalamazoo Kodiaks

First season: 1996

Years in league: 1996-1998

Ballpark: Sutherland Field

Kalamazoo had minor league baseball teams from the late 19th century until the 1920s, but the Kodiaks marked the first professional baseball in Kalamazoo in seventy years. The Kodiaks replaced the defunct Newark Bison franchise.

Things started well for the Kodiaks in 1996 as they finished second in the first half, but they were a miserable 8-29 in the second half. Still, the team drew over 62,000 fans, good for second-best in the league.

There were a couple of strong individual performances in 1997 as 2B Don DeDonatis hit .328 with a league record 65 steals and 3B Mike Garner supplied the power with a .330-11-56 season. Unfortunately it was not enough and the Kodiaks finished near the bottom of the standings again.

1998 was a terrible season for the Kodiaks as they finished last in both halves of the season. Willie Edwards had a strong .329-18-71 season, but the team had finished last in the league in batting average and earned run average (a whopping 6.42 team ERA!). Edwards, along with pitchers Darren Fidge and Brett Gray, would become the nucleus of a successful team in 2000, but they would do it after the Kodiaks moved to London.

The Kodiaks were not successful on the field, but they inspired local investors to get behind professional baseball in Kalamazoo, and improvements were made to Sutherland Field. The city would regain a place in the Frontier League with the birth of the Kalamazoo Kings in 2001.

Sutherland Field in Kalamazoo, MI, home of the Kalamazoo Kodiaks

 

Year   Won   Lost   GB   Finish   Attendance   Manager   Playoffs First Round   Playoffs Second Round
                                 
1996   17   20   4   2W   62,331   Glenn Gulliver        
    8   29   16   4W                
1997   18   22   7   3W   55,421   John Pacella        
    15   24   14   4W                
1998   11   28   12   4W   41,331   Alan Riffle/Andy McCauley        
    14   26   13   4W                

Kodiaks Post-Season All-Stars:

1997 2B Don DeDonatis; 3B Mike Garner

1998 OF Willie Edwards

Players on FL Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team:

2B Don DeDonatis (1997)

OF Willie Edwards (1998)

P Brett Gray (1998)

Franchise Player:

2B Don DeDonatis (1997) only played one season for the Kodiaks, but what a season it was. DeDonatis hit .328 and stole 65 bases, a record that still stands. His season was good enough for the post-season all-star team and also a spot on the Frontier League Tenth-Anniversary All-Star Team.

Kodiaks in the majors: none