First season: 2003
Years in league: 2003-2005
Ballpark: Taylor Stadium
The Mid-Missouri Mavericks were born when the Canton Coyotes were sold to a group of investors from Columbia, MO following the 2002 season. The team moved to Taylor Stadium, which it leased from the University Of Missouri. Former River City GM and FL Executive Of the Year Pat Daly was hired to run the team.
The team's first season was disastrous on the field as the Mavericks finished last in the West Division under three different managers. Although pitching was in short supply, first baseman Bill Greenwell (.300-6-78) led the league in RBI. Shortstop Cooper Vittitow (.269, 15 steals) led in games played and at-bats, and OF Jake Whitesides led the league in triples and was a post-season all-star.
They had more success at the gate. Although poor weather early in the season kept attendance down, the team still drew 75,000 fans, compared to only 30,000 the previous season in Canton.
GM Pat Daly resigned following the 2003 season and club president Gary Wendt assumed those duties, but not the title of GM, for 2004.
There was excitement heading into the 2004 season. The Mavericks hired former big-league slugger Jack Clark as manager. Clark had experience in the Frontier League, having managed River City in 1999. The team also added former Royals first baseman Pete LaCock as hitting coach.
The excitement proved to be short-lived. The Mavericks stumbled out of the gate and never recovered. The clubhouse became a revolving door, and over 80 players would wear a Mavericks uniform by the end of the season. LaCock was fired in mid-June, and Clark resigned a week later. The team's record stood at 4-26 at the time. Clark's replacement was former American League slugger Jim Gentile. Gentile, 74 years old, was coaxed out of retirement in Oklahoma. While he did not make the Mavericks into contenders, the team did play nearly .500 ball down the stretch.
1B/OF Blake Blase (.250-17-58) was the hitting star. OF Thomari Story-Harden added 11 dingers. Eric Darjean joined the team from Windy City and finished among the league leaders in steals and triples. The Mavericks had four players in double figures in stolen bases.
There were few bright spots on the mound. The team again finished last in the league with a 6.49 ERA. Only David Lemieux (6-2, 3.93) and Danny Schuck (5-1, 3.81) finished over .500. Justin Craker accounted for the team's entire total of 11 saves.
As bad as the news was on the field, it was worse at the gate. Attendance fell off dramatically, dropping by 30,000 fans from 2003. The Mavericks' future was in doubt all summer. The team signed a five-year lease with the University Of Missouri, with an opt-out clause after the second season. Fortunately for fans in Columbia, management decided not to exercise their option to leave and return for 2005.
Mavericks management made a bold prediction before the 2005 season. If the team finished under .500 season ticket holders would have half their money refunded. Ownership must have been disappointed when the team lost their first ten games of the new season.
The Mavericks had a couple of stars in versatile Brent Metheny (.338-12-76, 15 steals) and big 1B Thomari Story-Harden (.339-15-58). Story-Harden led the team in most categories despite being traded to Gateway in August, and led the league in on-base percentage. Catcher Alex Derhak hit .302 after joining the team from Florence to replace Matt Oakes, who suffered a season-ending injury. OF Josh Wettlaufer hit .284 with 14 steals and 2B Dusty Hillman hit .274 in his second season in Mid-Missouri.
The Mavericks also had a legitimate staff ace in Nick Renault (9-7, 3.89). His 145 strikeouts led the league. Steve Soja returned with a 3.48 ERA before shutting down with an arm injury late in the season. Cooper Eddy led the bullpen with eight saves.
During the season the Mavericks began exploring the possibility of moving into a new ballpark to be built at the Boone County Fairgrounds. In mid-October club President Gary Wendt announced that the Mavericks will not play in 2006 while continuing to pursue a new stadium for future use.
Taylor Stadium in Columbia, MO home of the Mid-Missouri Mavericks and the University Of Missouri.
|Year||Won||Lost||GB||Finish||Attendance||Manager||Playoffs First Round||Playoffs Second Round|
|2003||33||57||18||6W||75,589||Tony Torchia(17-23)/Papo Davila(12-23)/Mark Schlosser(4-11)|
|2004||28||66||29.5||6W||45,511||Jack Clark (4-26)/Jim Gentile(24-40)|
Major Award Winners: none
Mavericks Post-Season All-Stars:
2003 OF Jake Whitesides
2005 1B Thomari Story-Harden
Players on FL Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team: none
1B Thomari Story-Harden (2004-05) was a post-season all star in 2005. He led the league in on-base percentage and set a new club record with a .339 average.
Mavericks in the majors: none