The Charlotte Knights are a professional Minor League Baseball team in 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 play at BB&T Ballpark located in Uptown Charlotte.
Founded in 1976
Charlotte, North Carolina
|Minor league affiliations|
|Southern League (1976–1992)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Chicago White Sox (1999–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (4)|
|Division titles (3)|
|Wild card berths (1)|
|Nickname||Charlotte Knights (1988–present)|
|Charlotte Orioles (1976–1987)|
|Colors||Black, gold, silver, white|
|Mascot||Homer the Dragon|
|Ballpark||BB&T Ballpark (2014–present)|
|General Manager||Rob Egan|
Professional baseball in Charlotte dates to 1892, with the formation of the Charlotte Hornets. The 1892 Hornets played in the South Atlantic League, but only lasted one season. A new team, the Charlotte "Presbyterians" played in 1900, but just a year later, a new "Charlotte Hornets" baseball team formed. They were an independent team until 1935, when they became the Class B Piedmont League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox during that year only. Later in 1937, 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 while they were still independent. The South Atlantic League became a Double-A league in 1963 and renamed itself the Southern League in 1964. In 1972, the Twins placed their Single-A affiliate in the Western Carolinas League as the Charlotte Twins. After a lackluster season, however, they were moved to Orlando as the Orlando Twins. The Hornets disbanded, now leaving the city with no professional baseball. There was talk that Charlotte might get baseball again, but a new team to be called the "Charlotte Pines" never came to fruition.
Charlotte wouldn't see baseball again until 1976, when wrestling promoter Jim Crockett, Jr. bought the Asheville Orioles, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and renamed them the Charlotte Orioles. Griffith Park was fixed up, and in 1977 it was 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) and Cal Ripken (1980) 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 fire was caused by arson. The Crockett family built a 3,000-seat makeshift stadium immediately afterward, which served as the O's home for two years. However, unlike its predecessor, it was completely exposed to the elements, causing a steep decline in attendance. In 1987, George Shinn, founder of the NBA Charlotte Hornets, bought the team from the Crockett family and committed to building a permanent home for the team. In 1988, the team was renamed the Charlotte Knights out of a naming contest, and Crockett Park was renamed "Knights Park". The following season, 1989, the organization's 12-year affiliation with the Orioles ended when Shinn 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 their permanent home, 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 1993, Charlotte won an expansion team in the International League, which quickly secured an affiliation with the Cleveland Indians. This expansion team took the Charlotte Knights name, as well as the heritage of the old Double-A team. It was the first time a team from the Carolinas had played at the highest level of minor league baseball. The former Double-A Knights of the Southern League relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and ultimately Mobile, Alabama to become the current Mobile Bay Bears. The new Triple-A 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 1995–1998 seasons, the Knights were the Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Before the 1997 season, Shinn sold the Knights to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who negotiated a Triple-A affiliation agreement with the Chicago White Sox, a relationship that still continues today. The Knights won another International League title in 1999 as the White Sox' top affiliate. Notable former Knights under the White Sox affiliation include pitcher Jon Garland and former third baseman Joe Crede, both of whom played on the White Sox' World Series championship team in 2005. Later, Beaver and the White Sox extended their affiliation agreement, ensuring that professional baseball would remain in the Charlotte area for many years to come.
On October 8, 2009 the Charlotte Knights and York County agreed in principle on a four-year lease for the team to play at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. The agreement was to add fan related upgrades to the facility.
In 2011, the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Commission approved a land-swap agreement which opened the door for the construction of a new Triple-A-sized stadium in downtown Charlotte. The $54-million BB&T Ballpark opened in time for the 2014 season. It is located one block from Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. The team's attendance had sagged since the start of the new millennium, and it was hoped that bringing the Knights back to the city would increase attendance. To go along with the move, the Knights dropped the navy blue and dark green color scheme, as well as the old horse head and other logos they had been using for the previous fifteen years, and adopted a new black-gold-silver palette, modeled on the color scheme of their parent team. They also adopted new logos that focused more on the "knight" rather than the "horse". They also adopted new pinstripe jerseys, a nod to the old Hornets.
In 2016, pitcher Brad Goldberg was Charlotte's lone 2016 mid-season International League All Star, and finished the season with a 2.84 ERA and 10 saves (a team high) in 11 opportunities as the team's closer.
- Charlotte Orioles – Southern League Championship 1980
- Charlotte Orioles – Southern League Championship 1984
- Charlotte Knights – Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1993
- Charlotte Knights – Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1999
Charlotte Knights roster
As the Knights
- Harold Baines
- Joe Borchard
- Jerry Brooks
- José Canseco
- Scott Carroll
- Mark Clark
- Joe Crede
- Gookie Dawkins
- Josh Fields
- Steve Finley
- Brad Fullmer
- Brian Giles
- Jimmy Gobble
- Brad Goldberg
- Tommy Gregg
- Charlie Haeger
- Chris Hammond
- Liván Hernández
- Paul Konerko
- Jon Link
- Kevin Millar
- Russ Morman
- Charles Nagy
- Chad Ogea
- Jake Peavy
- Scott Podsednik
- Jim Powell, Atlanta Braves broadcaster
- Manny Ramírez
- Édgar Rentería
- Aaron Rowand
- Chris Sale
- Curt Schilling
- Frank Thomas
- Jim Thome
- Andrés Torres
- Preston Wilson
- Dan Wright
- Dave Jageler (1995–96, 2001), Washington Nationals (2006–present)
- Jim Powell (1990–91, 1995), Minnesota Twins (1993–94), Milwaukee Brewers (1996–2008), Atlanta Braves (2009–present)
- Tony Schiavone (1982-85 as the Charlotte O's), Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions (1983-1988), WWF (1989–90), World Championship Wrestling (1990-2001), Gwinnett Braves/Stripers (2009-present)
- Jimmy Williams – O's (1980)
- Grady Little – O's (1984)
- Charlie Manuel – Knights (1993)
- Sal Rende – Manager (1995–1996)
- Carlos Tosca – Manager (1997)
- Fredi González – Manager (1998)
- Tom Spencer – Knights (1999)
- Nick Leyva – Manager (2000–2001, 2005)
- Nick Capra – Manager (2002–2004)
- Manny Trillo – Manager (2005)
- Razor Shines – Manager (2006)
- Marc Bombard – Manager (2007–2008)
- Chris Chambliss – Manager (2009–2010)
- Joe McEwing – Manager (2011)
- Joel Skinner – Manager (2012–2015)
- Julio Vinas – Manager (2016)
- Mark Grudzielanek- Manager (2017–present)
- Tom Sorensen, "Out with the O's, in with the New: Team Is Knighted", The Charlotte Observer, December 9, 1987.
- Gault, Earl. Some win, some lose if Knights move to S. C. The Herald, 1988-05-22.
- Brown, Gord. DigitalBallparks.com. 31 January 2008.
- "Groundbreaking for new Knights ballpark set for September 14". August 24, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Knights Stadium Funding". Charlotte Business Journal.
- "RHP Brad Goldberg Promoted to Charlotte". MiLB.com News. April 23, 2016.
- "Brad Goldberg Stats, Highlights, Bio", MiLB.com Stats
- "Brad Goldberg Earns World Baseball Classic Berth with Team Israel",, OhioStateBuckeyes.com, The Ohio State University Official Athletic Site, September 26, 2016
- Kevin Gabinski, "Season in Review: 2016 Charlotte Knights",, FutureSox, September 12, 2016