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Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Indianapolis Indians are a minor league baseball team. The team, which plays in the International League, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates major-league club. Located in downtown Indianapolis, Victory Field is the venue of the home games of the Indianapolis Indians.
In 1887, Professional baseball was first played in Indianapolis. The current Indianapolis Indians franchise was founded as an original member of the American Association in 1902. In this year, 95 games, and the first of 21 pennants were won by team.
The early seasons of the ballclub were played at several ballparks. These included two on Washington Street. In 1929, the ownership of the team was taken by Norm Perry. He built a new stadium on 16th Street in 1931. The park was named Perry Stadium by him in honor of his brother James who had been killed in a plane crash. The ballpark was renamed Victory Field in 1942 and Bush Stadium in 1967. That ballpark also remained the Tribe's home until July 1996.Frank McKinney and Owen Bush purchased the team from Norm Perry in December 1941. The club was run those two men for 10 seasons.
In 1952, the team was purchased by the Cleveland Indians. But they looked to move the team after losing $500,000 on the operation over four seasons. The Indianapolis community rallied to save the Indians. Funeral director Robert E. Kirby, Chairman of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Athletic Committee, was successful in obtaining an option to purchase the franchise from Cleveland. A broad-based sale of stock in the team was organized. With a 100-share limit on individual purchases, Stock was priced at $10 per share.
Kirby, William R. Kraft, David M. Lewis, Thomas A. Moynahan and Thomas J. O'Brien got the ball rolling with investments of $200 each. Eventually, the certificate of incorporation for Indians, Inc. was received from the state of Indiana on November 9, 1955.The stock sale received intense media promotion. The complete lists of stock purchasers and their addresses were run by the Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Times.
Owen J. Bush, former Indians player, manager and owner, was named the first President of Indians, Inc. He held that position until January 1969. Max Schumacher joined the Indians front office as ticket manager in 1957. He was given the additional duties of publicity director in 1959. He became the club's general manager in 1961 . He held that post through 1997. After Bush's retirement, Max was also named the team's President in 1969. Till today, he continues as President and Chairman of the Board of Indians, Inc. His tenure has been proved very successful for the team. Under his direction, the corporation has turned a profit for 28 straight years.
On the field, the success of the Indians has been outstanding. The team has been successful in capturing three straight pennants from 1961-63, including the International League championship in 1963. The Indians have got affiliations with several Major League clubs over the years. These include Cincinnati (1939-41, 1961), Boston Braves (1946-47), Pittsburgh (1948-1951), Cleveland (1952-1956), Philadelphia (1960) and the Chicago White Sox (1962-67).
The period of the 1980s is the most glorious period in team history. In this period, the team was affiliated with the Montreal Expos. In a nine-year period (1984-1992), four division title and four straight playoff championships (1986-1989) were won by the Indians. Players like Delino DeShields, Andres Galarraga, Marquis Grissom, Randy Johnson and Larry Walker had great contributions in guiding the team to those triumphs.
In 1996, the team's moving downtown to a new ballpark.is perhaps the most significant change in Indians history. Taking a name from the past, Victory Field, is an $18 million project on the west side of downtown and part of White River State Park. It was opened on July 11, 1996 as the Tribe hosted Oklahoma City. The Indianapolis Indians were taken to a new level with the opening of Victory Field. Baseball America dubbed Victory Field 'the best minor league ballpark in America." in January 1999.
For over 100 years, the Indians have provided affordable family fun to the citizens of central Indiana.In that time, nine players enjoyed enough success at the Major League level to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Those players are: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Luke Appling, Charles Hartnett, Harmon Killebrew, Napoleon Lajoie, Al Lopez, Rube Marquard, Joseph McCarthy, Bill McKechnie, Raymond Schalk and Bob Uecker.
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