The Springfield Sliders are a collegiate summer league baseball team in the United States Prospect League. They play at Robin Roberts Stadium at Lanphier Park and are based in the city of Springfield, Illinois. The Sliders formed in November 2007 and were an expansion franchise for the 2008 season. The Sliders and other collegiate summer leagues and teams exist to give top college players professional-like experience without affecting NCAA eligibility.
|League||Prospect League (West Division)|
|Ballpark||Robin Roberts Stadium at Lanphier Park|
|League championships||1 (2008)|
|Former league(s)||Central Illinois Collegiate League (2008)|
|Management||Todd Miller (GM)|
|Media||The State Journal-Register|
The Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL) season was divided into two halves with the first half winner playing the second half winner in a best-of-three series. The Sliders dominated the first half of the 2008 season with a 20-4 record, winning by seven games. Springfield won the CICL Regular Season Championship with a 30-17 record, leaving the 2nd place team 4.5 games behind. In the 2008 playoffs, Springfield defeated the Danville Dans in three games to win the 2008 CICL Championship.
The CICL merged with the Prospect League after the 2008 season, with the Prospect League name carrying forward into the 2009 season and beyond. Today, the Sliders are a member of the West Division of the Prospect League along with the Cape Catfish, DuPage Pistol Shrimp, Hannibal Hoots, Normal CornBelters and Quincy Gems.
The Sliders are the third collegiate wood bat franchise in Springfield. The Springfield Capitals were the first, operating from 1963 to 1977. After the 1977 season, the Capitals ceased operations to make way for a minor league team, the Springfield Redbirds, for the 1978 season. The Springfield Redbirds would serve as the Triple A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals for four seasons, winning an American Association championship in 1980.
The Springfield Rifles began play in 1983 and were members of the CICL through 1995. Beginning in 1996 and running through 2006, when the team folded after the season because of financial constraints, the Rifles were a member of the Frontier League. The Rifles played their home games at Lincoln Land Community College for all but one season, and suffered from extremely low attendance.
The Sliders won their first game in franchise history against the Quincy Gems, 7-3.
The team won the Western Division championship in 2010 (won both halves of the season) and played in the Western Division championship series after the 2016 as the 2nd Half champions, but lost the series to the Quincy Gems.
The inclusion of the Gems in the 2016 series was controversial due to the Prospect League allowing an extra game played by the Gems to count in the standings for the season's 1st Half. The Gems and the DuPage Drones played a 31st game, while the remaining four teams only played thirty games. The Sliders, had the Gems only been able to count thirty games for the season's 1st Half, would have won both halves of the season, as they held a tiebreaker over the Gems. Such a decision would have seen the Sliders and Drones play in the Western Division championship series, as the Drones had the second-best overall season record in the division. Quincy would go on to lose the Prospect League Championship Series to the West Virginia Miners. The Prospect League has since abandoned the first half winner and second half winner playoff format, instead opting to have the two teams with the best overall season records in each division advance to their respective divisional playoffs.
Gun giveaway controversy
During the 2016 season, the Sliders announced that an in-game promotion during their June 22nd game against the DuPage Drones would feature a 50/50 drawing for a choice of several guns. The promotion drew attention and anger from a number of fans in the local community, given the short amount of time between the giveaway and the mass murder of 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The team's owner and General Manager, Todd Miller, told local media outlets that he gave thought to cancelling the giveaway, planned well in advance of the terrorist act, but instead chose to go forward with the promotion. Miller and the owner of the gun store providing the firearms emphasized that the weapons would not be at the stadium during the giveaway and that the winner would still have to comply with all applicable laws for purchasing a gun, in order to claim their prize. The game saw triple the number of fans in attendance than a typical game that season. The team has since given away two more guns at its games.
Former Sliders in professional baseball
Since joining the Prospect League for the 2009 season, the Sliders have seen several players drafted by MLB teams. Most recently, Chatham, Illinois (just outside of Springfield) native Nick Maton was selected in the 2017 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 7th round. As of August 7, 2019, no former members of the Sliders have appeared in an MLB game, with Maton, and Elliot Soto being the only currently active players in an MLB organization. Maton is currently assigned to the Clearwater Threshers, an Advanced A affiliate of the Phillies. Soto is currently assigned to the Albuquerque Isotopes, the AAA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
|Season||Manager||Record||Win %||League||Division||GB||Post-season record||Post-season win %||Post-season result||Notes|
|2008||Ryan Sawyers||30–17||.638||1st||1st||-||League Champions|
|2014||Pete Romero / Vic Aure||14–46||.233||5th||5th||25.5||0–0||.000||–|
|2019||Jeremiah Knackstedt||12–48||.200||12th||6th||31.0||0–0||.000||–||Prospect League record 26 game losing streak; League record 48 overall losses|
The Sliders play at Robin Roberts Stadium. The stadium opened in 1928 and was renovated/expanded over the years to its current 5,200 seat capacity. During the 2017 season, 29,532 fans attended Sliders games at Robin Roberts stadium, ranking the facility as the fourth-most visited stadium in the Prospect League. The stadium has been the home to a number of minor league and independent teams since it opened in 1928. During the 2019 season, just under 28,000 fans attended Sliders games at the stadium, ranking the facility as the third-most visited stadium in the Prospect League, despite the team's on-field performance, which saw it set a new league record for most losses in a season at 48.
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