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Zanesville Greys

First season: 1993

Years in league: 1993-96

Ballpark: Gant Municipal Stadium

Zanesville, Ohio, has a story typical of those in the early years of the Frontier League. After having hosted minor-league baseball for part of the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, Zanesville was left without pro ball in the great contraction of the minor leagues following WWII. The Greys marked the return of minor-league baseball to Zanesville after an absence of over forty years.

The Greys were easily the most successful team of the fledgling Frontier League's first season. They easily won both halves of the season and then swept the Ohio Valley Redcoats in the playoffs to become the first champions of the Frontier League. The Greys had five regulars hit over .300, led by MVP and batting champ Kyle Shade. Shade was assisted in the batting order by Jeff Rollyson (.336, 11 steals) and James Wambach (.335-10-35). The pitching was also strong, with a rotation containing Ulpi Puente (8-1, 3.31), Mick Lantz (5-1, 3.02) and Most Valuable Pitcher Tom Crowley (7-1, 2035). To add to the season's luster, the Zanesville led the league in attendance, averaging nearly 1,000 fans a game.

The Greys finished well over .500 again in 1994. In fact, they had a record good enough to win the South Division in both halves. Unfortunately, they played in the North Division with a dominant Ohio Valley team and the eventual champion Erie Sailors. Zanesville had to settle for third place.

1995 marked a return to form for the Greys. The team was built on pitching and speed. The offense only collected twelve home runs for the season but led the league with 137 stolen bases, paced by Chad Ponjelik (39 steals) and Rusty Alligood (37). Outfielder Kurt Venneman came over from Chillicothe and hit over .300 for the second consecutive season. On the mound the team was second in ERA, but the big story was bullpen ace Don Wolfe, who saved a league record 21 games. Zanesville advanced to the playoff finals but fell to Johnstown.

The Greys finished with yet another winning record in 1996 but missed the playoffs by a game. Pitching was again Zanesville's strong suit, led by Matt Baxter (9-2, 2.47), Tom Franek (8-6, 2.87), Richie Linder (8-5, 3.33) and veteran Tom Crowley (3-2, 3.15). Once again the Greys could rely on a bullpen ace, this time Terry Pearson, with 20 saves and a miniscule 0.50 ERA. Pearson stuck out 43 in 36 innings while walking only eight batters!

Despite finishing over .500 every season and treating baseball fans in Zanesville to some of the best pitching ever seen in the Frontier League, the Greys ran into financial problems. By the end of the 1996 season Zanesville, with a population of 25,000, was one of the smallest markets in the league. The Greys sat out the 1997 season and were replaced by the Canton Crocodiles. That summer the rights to the franchise were purchased by a group from suburban St. Louis, and the Zanesville Greys were reborn in 1999 as the River City Rascals.

Gant Municipal Stadium in Zanesville, Ohio, home of the Zanesville Greys, was built in 1940.

Year   Won   Lost   GB   Finish   Attendance   Manager   Playoffs First Round   Playoffs Second Round
                                 
1993   16   11   --   1W   +23,000   Tom Vendetelli       Beat Ohio Valley 2-0
    17   6   --   1W                
1994   18   13   6.5   3N   19,178   Tom Vendetelli        
    17   15   6.5   3N                
1995   37   31   8.5   3   25,515   Eric Welch   Beat Newark 2-0   Lost to Johnstown 2-0
1996   20   17   3   3E   24,190   Eric Welch        
    20   17   5   2E                

Major Award Winners:

1993 Kyle Shade, Most Valuable Player

1993 Tom Crowley, Most Valuable Pitcher

1993 Tom Venditelli, Manager Of the Year

1995 Don Wolfe, Most Valuable Pitcher

Greys Post-Season All-Stars:

1995 P Don Wolfe

Players on FL Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team:

OF Darren Bush (1996)

P Tom Crowley (1993-94, 96)

P Bob Spears (1996)

P Terry Pearson (1995-96)

P Don Wolfe (1995)

Franchise Player: P Tom Crowley played three years in Zanesville, winning 16 games. He lead the league in ERA in 1993 and his highest ERA was 3.36.

Greys in the majors: P Terry Pearson (1995-96) pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 2002.