Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers are a Minor League Baseball team of the South Atlantic League and the Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. They are located in Kannapolis, North Carolina and beginning in 2020, will play their home games at Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue. The team was established in 1995 as the Piedmont Phillies. From 1996 to 2000, they were known as the Piedmont Boll Weevils. From 2001 to 2019, they were known as the Kannapolis Intimidators, after NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who was known as the "The Intimidator", purchased a share of the team before the 2001 season.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Founded in 1995
Kannapolis, North Carolina
Team logo
CurrentClass A
Minor league affiliations
LeagueSouth Atlantic League
DivisionSouthern Division
Major league affiliations
CurrentChicago White Sox (2001–present)
PreviousPhiladelphia Phillies (1995–2000)
Minor league titles
League titles (1)2005
Division titles (1)2017
Team data
Previous names
  • Kannapolis Intimidators (2001–2019)
  • Piedmont Boll Weevils (1996–2000)
  • Piedmont Phillies (1995)
  • Spartanburg Phillies (1963–1995)
ColorsNavy blue, red, light blue, gold, white
MascotTim E. Gator (2009–2019)
Dub (2001–2010)
Bo the Weevil (1996–2000)
Hi Ho Philly (1995)
BallparkKannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue (from 2020)
Previous parks
Intimidators Stadium (1995–2019)
Temerity Baseball, LLC
ManagerRyan Newman
General ManagerMatt Millward

Team history

The Intimidators franchise moved to Kannapolis in 1995 from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where it had been a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies since the franchise's beginning in 1963. Debate raged in the Kannapolis area over what to name the team, with team officials finally deciding to call the team the Piedmont Phillies for the 1995 season.

A name-the-team contest in the fall of 1995 drew thousands of entries, and the team settled on the boll weevil as the team's new mascot, indicative of Kannapolis' history as a textile mill town (Kannapolis natives are even called "lintheads"). The Piedmont Boll Weevils kept that mascot until after the 2000 season, when NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt purchased a share in the team's ownership. It was then that the name was changed to the Kannapolis Intimidators, in honor of Earnhardt's nickname.[1] The team's logo was designed by Sam Bass, who has designed paint schemes and uniforms on many NASCAR, IndyCar, and NHRA race cars.[1] It was also during that off-season that the team's parent club changed from the Phillies to the Chicago White Sox, making the Intimidators the third White Sox farm team to be located in the Carolinas, following the Charlotte Knights and the Winston-Salem Warthogs.

Earnhardt, who drove the number 3 car in NASCAR, was killed in an accident at the Daytona 500 in February 2001.[2] Following Earnhardt's death, the Intimidators avoided assigning the number 3 for team uniforms. Team manager Razor Shines, originally slated to wear the number, changed his uniform number to 43. The team officially retired number 3 on May 15, 2002, in memory of their former co-owner, similar to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim retiring the number 26 (the 26th man) in honor of former owner Gene Autry.

From 1995 to 2019, the team played in Intimidators Stadium (formerly Fieldcrest Cannon and later CMC-NorthEast Stadium) in Kannapolis. "The Cannon" was still under construction when the Piedmont Phillies began play in 1995. Upon completion in late 1995, during the winter, the stadium seated 4,700 fans. The stadium changed names on April 3, 2012, under a new naming rights agreement for the 2012 season.[3] For 2016, the naming rights deal quietly ended, with the name reverting to Intimidators Stadium.[4]

Current or former Major League Baseball players to pass through Kannapolis include Jimmy Rollins and Dave Coggin of the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as Jack Egbert, Gordon Beckham, Chris Getz, Brent Morel, and Clayton Richard of the Chicago White Sox. Marlon Byrd, Jorge Padilla, Ryan Madson, and Brett Myers played for the 2000 Piedmont Boll Weevils.[5] Also, NFL running back Ricky Williams played for the Boll Weevils during the late 1996 and 1997 seasons while he was also playing college football for the University of Texas.[6]

On October 30, 2018, ground was broken on a new ballpark in downtown Kannapolis as part of a mixed-use redevelopment plan.[7] The stadium is scheduled to be ready for the team's 2020 season opener on April 16, 2020.[8]

With the move, the team announced in February 2019 that it would seek ideas for a new name to be introduced at the same time.[9] The new owners cited their inability to widely market the Intimidator name due its association with Earnhardt, and trademark rights held by his estate. On October 23, 2019, the team unveiled its new identity as the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers: the team sought a name that could reflect on both the city's heritage and its association with auto racing. "Cannons" was among the most popular suggestions, and it was refined into "Cannon Ballers" in order to evoke a theme of human cannonball acts rather than cannons used as weapons. The name was seen as evoking Earnhardt's legacy as a risk-taker, and the mascot (a baseball-headed stuntman) has a mustache modeled specifically upon that of Earnhardt.[10][11]


Smith Family Baseball, owned by Illinois businessman Dale Smith and his son Brad (the team's President) bought the team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and motorsports magnate Bruton Smith in December 2004. Larry and Sue Hedrick, the owners who bought the Spartanburg Phillies in 1993 and eventually moved them to Kannapolis, retained a minority share of the team's ownership.

A group led by Reese L. Smith III announced the purchase of the Intimidators in 2015, subject to approval by the South Atlantic League, Minor League Baseball and the Commissioner of Baseball.[12] The Kannapolis city council voted to transfer the lease of the stadium to Intimidators Baseball Club LLC.[13]

The team was purchased by Temerity Baseball, LLC, following the 2018 season.[14]


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers roster
Players Coaches/Other


  • 26 Jason Bilous
  • 29 Hansen Butler
  • 32 Austin Conway
  • 40 Declan Cronin
  • 31 Johan Dominguez
  • 20 Kevin Folman
  • 30 Caleb Freeman
  • 28 Sam Long
  • 24 Davis Martin
  • 14 Justin O'Conner
  • 27 J.B Olsen
  • 39 Devon Perez
  • 10 Wilber Perez
  • 22 Lane Ramsey
  • -- Tyler Watson
  • -- Ben Wright ‡


  • 16 Michael Hickman
  • 37 Gunnar Troutwine


  •  1 Ramon Beltre
  • -- Jake Burger
  • 18 Amado Nunez
  •  9 Tyler Osik
  •  2 Lenyn Sosa
  • 25 Corey Zangari


  • -- Bryce Bush
  •  8 Ian Dawkins
  • 23 Alex Destino
  •  6 Romy Gonzalez
  • 45 Cameron Simmos


  •  5 Ryan Newman


7-day injured list
* On Chicago White Sox 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated October 29, 2019
→ More rosters: MiLB  South Atlantic League
Chicago White Sox minor league players

Championship series history

The Spartanburg/Kannapolis franchise has appeared in four SAL championship series, winning two:

  • 1988 (Spartanburg Phillies) – defeated Charleston, 3 games to 0
  • 1995 (Piedmont Phillies) – lost to Augusta, 3 games to 2
  • 2005 (Kannapolis Intimidators) – defeated Hagerstown, 3 games to 1
  • 2017 (Kannapolis Intimidators) – lost to Greenville, 3 games to 1

Notable franchise alumni

Baseball Hall of Fame alumni

Notable alumni


  1. "TEC | Kannapolis Intimidators". Daleearnhardt.net. The Earnhardt Connection. November 22, 2000. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  2. Rodman, Dave (February 21, 2001). "Earnhardt dies following Daytona 500 accident – February 21, 2001". NASCAR.com. Archived from the original on February 19, 2001. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  3. "Name Game: Welcome to CMC-NorthEast Stadium". MiLB.com. Kannapolis Intimidators. April 3, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  4. "Our Ballpark | Kannapolis Intimidators Content".
  5. "Baseball Reference: 2000 Piedmont Boll Weevils". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  6. "Baseball Reference: 1996 Piedmont Boll Weevils". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  7. Speddon, Zach (October 31, 2018). "New Kannapolis Ballpark Breaks Ground". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  8. "Kannapolis Ballpark Opener: April 16, 2020". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. August 22, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  9. "Intimidators launch name change contest". Independent Tribune. February 6, 2019. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  10. "Launching the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers". Chris Creamer's SportsLogos.net. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  11. "New for 2020: Kannapolis Cannon Ballers". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. October 24, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  12. "Intimidators baseball team in Kannapolis under new ownership". Independent Tribune. March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  13. Smith, Deirdre (March 16, 2016). "Kannapolis Intimidators have new owners, big plans". Salisbury Post. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  14. "Temerity Baseball Buys Kannapolis Intimidators". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
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