The Charlotte Knights are a minor league baseball team representing Charlotte, North Carolina. The team, which plays in the International League, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox of the American League. The Knights currently play in Knights Stadium, located in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte.
Professional baseball in Charlotte dates to 1901, with the formation of the Charlotte Hornets. They were an independent team until 1937, when the Washington Senators, now the Minnesota Twins, purchased the team. The Hornets would remain affiliated with the Senators/Twins for 35 years. In 1940, Calvin Griffith, the son of Senators owner Clark Griffith and future owner of the Senators/Twins, built a 3,200-seat park in Charlotte's Dilworth neighborhood, Calvin Griffith Park. It would be the home of Charlotte baseball for the next half-century.
After several years on the lower rungs of the minor league totem pole, the Hornets joined the Class A South Atlantic League in 1954. They had previously been members of the South Atlantic League in the 1920s. The South Atlantic League became a AA league in 1963 and renamed itself the Southern League in 1964. In 1972, the team renamed itself the Charlotte Twins. Minnesota dropped its affiliation after the 1972 season. Unable to link up with a new team, the Twins disbanded.
The current incarnation of Charlotte baseball began in 1976, when wrestling promoter Jim Crockett, Jr. bought the Asheville Orioles, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and renamed them the Charlotte Orioles. Griffith Park was fixed up and renamed Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Park (popularly known as Crockett Park). The team, popularly known as the O's, won Southern League titles in 1980 and 1984. Eventual major-league superstars Eddie Murray (the O's original first baseman in 1976), Cal Ripken (1980) and Curt Schilling (mid-1980s) played for the O's.
In March 1985, Crockett Park (mostly wood-framed) was destroyed by a massive fire after a high school baseball game. An investigation revealed that the cause of the fire was arson. The Crockett family built a 5,500-seat makeshift stadium immediately afterward, which served as the O's home for three years. In 1987, George Shinn, founder of the NBA Charlotte Hornets, bought the team from the Crockett family. Later in the year, he renamed the team the Knights and switched the team's affiliation to the Chicago Cubs.
The team moved to Knights Castle, a temporary 8,000 seat stadium located on Deerfield Drive in Fort Mill, South Carolina near the construction site of Knights Stadium. The stadium was built for the 1989 season and was demolished following the final game that year to make room for Knights Stadium in Fort Mill in 1990.
In 1993, Charlotte acquired an International League franchise as the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. This expansion team took the Charlotte Knights name, with the former AA Knights of the Southern League relocating to Nashville, Tennessee and ultimately Mobile, Alabama to become the current Mobile Bay Bears. The new AAA Knights, led by future major-league stars Jim Thome and Manny Ramírez, won the International League title in 1993. Much of the core of that team, including manager Charlie Manuel, played a role in the Indians' World Series teams of 1995 and 1997.
For the 1996-1997 seasons, the Knights were the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Before the 1998 season, Shinn sold the Knights to N.C. businessman Don Beaver, who negotiated a AAA affiliation agreement with the Chicago White Sox. The Knights won another International League title in 1999 as the White Sox' top affiliate. Notable former Knights under the White Sox affiliation include former White Sox' and current Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jon Garland and former White Sox' and former Minnesota Twins third baseman Joe Crede. This agreement has recently been extended to ensure that professional baseball will remain in the Charlotte area for many years to come.
Recently, the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Commission approved a land-swap agreement which, barring potential legal action, will permit construction of a new AAA-sized stadium in downtown Charlotte. If built, it will be located near Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. The team's attendance has sagged in recent years, and it was hoped that bringing the Knights back to the city would increase attendance.
On October 8, 2009 The Charlotte Knights and York County agreed in principle upon a four-year lease for the team to play at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. Agreement will add fan related upgrades to facility.
- Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins 1937-42, 1946–72
- Baltimore Orioles 1976-88
- Chicago Cubs 1989-92
- Cleveland Indians 1993-95
- Florida Marlins 1996-1997
- Chicago White Sox 1998–present
- Charlotte Hornets - North Carolina League Championship 1902, 1916, 1923
- Charlotte Hornets - Piedmont League Championship 1931, 1938
- Charlotte Hornets - Tri-State League Championship 1946, 1947, 1952
- Charlotte Hornets - Southern League Championship 1971
- Charlotte O's - Southern League Championship 1984
- Charlotte Knights - Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1993
- Charlotte Knights - Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1999
As the HornetsEdit
As the O'sEdit
As the KnightsEdit
- Joe Borchard
- José Canseco
- Mark Clark
- Joe Crede
- Josh Fields
- Brad Fullmer
- Brian Giles
- Charlie Haeger
- Liván Hernández
- Paul Konerko
- Charles Nagy
- Chad Ogea
- Manny Ramírez
- Edgar Rentería
- Aaron Rowand
- Frank Thomas
- Jim Thome
- Andrés Torres
- Calvin Griffith - Hornets 1938-41
- Jimmy Williams - O's 1980
- Grady Little - O's 1984
- Charlie Manuel - Knights 1993
- Tom Spencer - Knights 1999
- Marc Bombard - Manager 2007-2008
- Chris Chambliss - Manager 2009-2010
<ref>tags exist, but no
<references/>tag was found