Utica Braves

From BR Bullpen

The Utica Braves were formed in 1939 when the former Auburn Bouleys were moved to Utica by Amby McConnell and Father Harold Martin. The team got into controversy its first season when McConnell signed SS Leo Schoppmyer to two contracts, violating contract limits. John Cahill (10-7, 2.27) was the star for a disappointing club in '39, as they finished last at 45-78-2 with McConnell managing. Despite the failure on the field, they drew 105,394 fans, almost double any other Can-Am club. Lefty Jenkins took the reigns in 1940 and the Braves improved to 69-56-2, 4th in the 8-team Canadian-American League. Attendance again led the league (89,669) and was again more than the next two teams combined. In 1941, Utica fell back to last (45-79) under manager Frank Zubik. The former independent team became a Detroit Tigers affiliate and continued to lead in attendance, though the crowds shrank to 51,000. Zubik did hit .320 with 17 homers, so can't take all the blame.

The 1942 team, a farm team of Springfield, was third at 66-54, just a half-game behind second. As in '40, they lost 4 games to 1 in the first playoff round. Attendance picked up to 83,443, again more than the next two combined. The club got fine pitching from minor-league mainstay Jodie Phipps (20-10, 2.81) and Jorge Comellas (19-11, 3.10). Phipps led the Can-Am in wins with Comellas tied for second; he was the only major league pitcher who played for the Can-Am Utica Braves. The batting champion was the only major league position player produced by the team during its Can-Am stay, 1B Reggie Otero. Otero hit .364 and drove in 101, three less than the leader.

Moving to the Eastern League in 1943, the Braves replaced the Williamsport Grays. A Philadelphia Phillies affiliate, they were dead last in the EL at 37-101 and were outscored 779-523; they allowed 59 more runs than any other team in the league. No pitcher was in the top HALF of the league in ERA. The offensive leader was OF Connie Creeden, who hit .323/~.404/.454.

The team's name was changed to the Utica Blue Sox in 1944

Sources: Baseball's Canadian-American League by David Pietrusza, 1945 Official Baseball Guide

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1939 45-78 8th Amby McConnell
1940 69-56 4th Lefty Jenkins Lost in 1st round
1941 45-79 8th Frank Zubik
1942 66-54 3rd Red Marion Lost in 1st round
1943 37-101 8th Wally Schang