Tacoma Affiliation History
60 seasons of history at Cheney Stadium
60 seasons of history at Cheney Stadium
The first team to play at brand-new Cheney Stadium, the Giants marked the return of Pacific Coast League baseball to Tacoma (Tacoma had a PCL entry in 1904 and half of 1905).
Future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal pitched a shutout in the first Giants win at Cheney Stadium, but it was the 1961 Giants who brought the first championship to the city. Gaylord Perry, Ron Herbel, and Eddie Fisher fronted an outstanding starting rotation as the club went 97-57 under manager Red Davis. Bob Perry hit 22 home runs, and Dick Phillips won the only Most Valuable Player award claimed by a Tacoma player.
The Giants continued to play in Tacoma through the 1965 season, when San Francisco Giants owner Horace Stoneham announced that he was moving his affiliate to Phoenix for 1966. But the Chicago Cubs stepped in and arranged to send their prospects to Tacoma the following year.
The Chicago Cubs used Tacoma as their Triple-A affiliate for six seasons. Whitey Lockman managed the club for the first four years, leading the team to the 1969 PCL championship. Lockman - who was on base when Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard Round The World" in 1951 - was Tacoma's winningest manager until Dave Myers broke his mark in 2000.
The 1969 PCL champions win it with pitching, posting a 3.01 team ERA and an 86-60 record. The club won a best-of-five series against Eugene, three games to two, to capture the title.
The Cubs left town after the 1971 season, but local businessmen Stan Naccarato and Clay Huntington put together a conglomerate of local investors to purchase the franchise and keep Triple-A baseball in Tacoma. The group secured an affiliation with the Minnesota Twins.
The Tacoma Twins did not bring any championships to town, but they did bring stability. A number of players spent multiple seasons in Tacoma, piling up impressive career totals.
Slugging infielder Rick Renick launched 72 home runs over four seasons; he remains Tacoma's all-time career home run leader. Left-hand pitcher Eddie Bane won 38 games over four seasons before embarking on a long, successful career in scouting.
Randy Bass entered the PCL record book when he hit four home runs in a single game on June 9, 1977 at Phoenix. Bass hit .321 with 25 home runs and 117 RBI that season.
For one strange season, Tacoma affiliated with the New York Yankees. Obviously an inappropriate affiliate geographically, Tacoma was a distant observer of the major league Yankees incredible late-season surge to overtake the Red Sox in the American League East.
Meanwhile, the Tacoma Yankees went 80-57 and were named co-champions with Albuquerque. In a result that would never happen today, the entire championship series was cancelled due to rain.
The 1978 Tacoma Yankees had a team batting average of .290, with Garry Smith (.325) and Tommy Cruz (.319) leading the way.
The Cleveland Indians became the new affiliate for two years in 1979, and for the first time Tacoma team management decided to give the team a nickname that did not match the major league club.
Management decided on Tugs for 1979, but after the season they elected to return to the traditional Tacoma nickname Tigers for 1980. Tacoma had lower-classification teams prior to 1960 and these teams were always called "Tacoma Tigers," regardless of the major league affiliation.
The two years of Cleveland affiliation provided .500 baseball: the team went 74-73 in 1979, and 74-74 in 1980.
The Oakland A's hooked up with Tacoma to start the 1981 season, and the relationship lasted 14 seasons.
The A's provided Tacoma with five playoff teams, but none won the league championship. Tacoma fans did get an early look at a string of American League Rookie of the Year award winners, as Walt Weiss, Jose Canseco, and Mark McGwire each played in Tacoma before reaching Oakland.
Future stars Jason Giambi, Scott Brosius, and Jose Rijo also played for the Tacoma Tigers during this stretch.
The 1995 season saw Tacoma finally affiliate with the local major league squad, the Seattle Mariners. With the new affiliation came a name change to Rainiers - the long-time nickname of Seattle's PCL team, in the pre-Mariners era.
Nearly all of the homegrown Seattle Mariners players have passed through Tacoma, including Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Ken Griffey Jr (on rehab assignments), Raul Ibanez, Felix Hernandez, JJ Putz, and many more.
The Rainiers had a great run from 2001-2005 under manager Dan Rohn, a three-time winner of the PCL Manager of the Year award.
Tacoma won a share of the PCL title in 2001 (declared co-champions with New Orleans when the championship series was called off due to terrorist attacks of September 11), and the team advanced to the PCL championship series in 2005, only to get swept by Nashville. The most recent championship title came in 2010, when the Tacoma Rainiers played all games on the road due to the stadium's largest renovation in history.
The relaunch of the Rainiers brand with updated logos in 2015 helped kick off an era of tremendous growth for the franchise. Over the past four seasons Tacoma ownership has poured money into various Cheney Stadium projects including R Bar and the Mary Bridge Family Pavilion, ensuring the ballpark remains fresh and modern while providing fans the best possible game day experience.
In 2017 Cheney Stadium proudly played host to the Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby for the first time in Tacoma's history and welcomed 388,633 fans through the gates over the course of the summer. Each of the last four seasons have ranked among the franchise's top five years in season attendance.
The Rainiers have ranked among MiLB's Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales in three consecutive years from 2015-17, a franchise first. President Aaron Artman and Director of Baseball Operation and Merchandise Ashley Schutt have both earned Pacific Coast League awards for their world-class work.
R City has helped R House thrive - it's never been a better time to visit Cheney Stadium.