The Tacoma Rainiers are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. They are located in Tacoma, Washington, and play their home games at Cheney Stadium which opened in 1960. At only 26 miles (42 km) south of Seattle, the Rainiers have the shortest distance between a Triple-A team and its major league parent. Tacoma, which has the longest current active streak of PCL membership, operated under several monikers before becoming the Rainiers in 1995. They have won the PCL championship five times (1961, 1969, 1978, 2001, and 2010), more than any other active PCL team.
Founded in 1960
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Pacific Coast League (1960–present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Seattle Mariners (1995–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (5)|
|Conference titles (3)|
|Division titles (9)|
*Co-champions with Albuquerque
†Co-champions with New Orleans
|Nickname||Tacoma Rainiers (1995–present)|
|Colors||Navy blue, red, white|
|Mascot||Rhubarb the Reindeer (1995-present)|
The Tacoma Tiger (1980-1994)
|Ballpark||Cheney Stadium (1960–present)|
|The Baseball Club of Tacoma|
|General Manager||Aaron Artman|
Beginnings: Tacoma Tigers
Tacoma's first team in the PCL was the Tacoma Tigers, who joined the league in 1904, having moved from Sacramento after the 1903 season. The 1904 Tigers won Tacoma's first PCL pennant, finishing first in both halves of the split season schedule, seven games (annualized) over the runner-up Los Angeles Angels. The 1905 Tigers won the first-half championship, then moved back to Sacramento, finishing out the season as the Sacramento Solons, and losing the postseason series to the Angels.
The PCL did not return to Tacoma for another 55 years; however, another Tacoma Tigers franchise operated in the Western International League from the 1930s through 1951. Owned by William Starr of San Diego, they were affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the PCL. The team was sold, relocated to north central Idaho, and became the Lewiston Broncs in 1952.
1960–1965: Tacoma Giants
The current PCL franchise was founded in 1960 when the Phoenix Giants, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, moved to Tacoma and became the Tacoma Giants. The Giants were the first team to play at brand-new Cheney Stadium.
The Giants' first win at Cheney Stadium came on April 16, 1960—an 11–0 victory over Portland in game two of a doubleheader. Future National Baseball Hall Of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal worked the victory, giving Tacoma their first franchise shutout performance.
The 1961 iteration of the club posted a 97–57 record under manager Red Davis, who steered a team led by Gaylord Perry, Ron Herbel, Eddie Fisher, and Dick Phillips. Following a season in which he hit .264 with 16 home runs and 98 RBI, Phillips was named the 1961 PCL Most Valuable Player – he remains the only player in franchise history to earn the PCL MVP award.
1966–1971: Tacoma Cubs
In 1965, the Giants decided to move the team back to Phoenix, however, the Chicago Cubs decided to move their affiliate, the Salt Lake City Bees, to Tacoma exactly the same year and renamed the team the Tacoma Cubs.
The club played as a Cubs affiliate for six season, compiling a 410–466 (.468) record. The Tacoma Cubs were managed by Whitey Lockman for their first four seasons, including a 1969 PCL Championship after finishing the year 86–60. The 1969 Cubs pitching staff compiled a 3.01 team ERA, and bested Eugene for the league championship 3–2 in a best-of-five series.
1972–1977: Tacoma Twins
Following the 1971 season, the Chicago Cubs left town. Local businessmen Stan Naccarato and Clay Huntington spearheaded a group of local investors who purchased the franchise and secured an affiliation with the Minnesota Twins, who renamed the team the Tacoma Twins.
Through six seasons as a Twins affiliate, Tacoma compiled a 422–441 (.489) record with no league championships.
During the Twins era, infielder Rick Renick (1973–76) slugged his way to 72 home runs, giving him the most career home runs in franchise history. In the midst of a 1977 season in which he hit .321 with 25 home runs and 117 RBI, first baseman Randy Bass notched four home runs on June 9, 1977 at Phoenix – he is one of only six players in PCL history to send out four or more home runs in a single contest.
1978: Tacoma Yankees
For one season, the Tacoma franchise found themselves affiliated with the New York Yankees. While the Yankees compiled a 100-win 1978 season that culminated in an American League East title over the Boston Red Sox, the Tacoma Yankees compiled an 80–57 record and advanced to the league championship.
After the 1978 PCL Championship series with Albuquerque was cancelled due to rain, Tacoma and Albuquerque were named PCL Co-Champions.
1979 Tacoma Tugs and 1980 Tacoma Tigers
Following an affiliation change to the Cleveland Indians, a local contest was held and long-time Tacoma resident, Gary W. Grip won with his entry, the Tacoma Tugs. Grip drew his inspiration for the name from the many tugboats in the Tacoma waters. The franchise was renamed the Tacoma Tugs, marking the first time the team's nickname did not align with its major league club. After one season as the Tugs, the team returned to the Tigers nickname in 1980.
The team finished with nearly identical records in both years as a Cleveland affiliate, going 74–73 in 1979, and 74–74 in 1980.
1981–1994: Tacoma Tigers
Following their brief stints with the Yankees and Indians, the team moved their affiliation to the Oakland A's, a partnership that would last 14 seasons.
While the affiliation with Oakland provided five playoffs appearances for Tacoma fans, it produced no league championships. Future American League Rookies of the Year Walt Weiss, Jose Canseco, and Mark McGwire all spent time in Tacoma during this period. Scott Brosius, Tacoma's current hitting coach, also played for Tacoma during the Oakland era.
1995–present: Tacoma Rainiers
The team became associated with the nearby Seattle Mariners in 1995, whose Triple-A team for the previous ten seasons had been the Calgary Cannons. Tacoma adopted the Rainiers name in part as a tribute to the Seattle Rainiers minor league teams that played in Seattle from 1938 to 1964 in the PCL, and again from 1972 to 1976. The Tacoma Rainiers play their home games at Cheney Stadium, which hosted the baseball portion of the 1990 Goodwill Games. The Mariners' T-Mobile Park is about 30 miles (48 km) to the north.
Since their affiliation with the Mariners beginning in 1995, nearly all of the organization's home-grown prospects have passed through Tacoma, including Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez, Felix Hernandez, J.J. Putz, Kyle Seager and more.
Tacoma was managed by Dan Rohn from 2001–2005, a three-time PCL Manager of the Year recipient. Under Rohn's direction, the Rainiers compiled a record of 375–340 (.524).
Tacoma shared a PCL Championship in 2001 with New Orleans after the September 11 attacks forced the cancellation of the championship series. The Rainiers advanced to the championship series in 2005, but was swept by Nashville, before winning their most recent league championship in 2010.
The Rainiers are broadcast on KHHO 850 AM by play-by-play announcer Mike Curto, who has been with the club since 1999.
Tacoma postseason history
|1961||Won Pacific Coast League Championship (no playoff)|
|1969||Won Pacific Coast League Championship (defeated Eugene, 3–2)|
|1971||Lost League Championship series to Salt Lake City (3–1)|
|1976||Lost Western Division Playoff to Hawaii (1–0)|
|1978||Declared Co-Pacific Coast League Champions with Albuquerque (no playoff due to rain)|
|1981||Defeated Hawaii in Northern Division Playoff (2–1), Lost to Albuquerque in Championship series (3–0)|
|1982||Lost to Spokane in Northern Division Playoff (2–1)|
|1987||Lost to Calgary in Northern Division Playoff (3–2)|
|1990||Lost to Edmonton in Northern Division Playoff (3–2)|
|2001||Defeated Sacramento in Pacific Conference Playoff (3–2), Declared Co-Pacific Coast League Champions with New Orleans|
|2005||Defeated Sacramento in Pacific Conference Playoff (3–2), Lost to Nashville in Championship (3–0)|
|2009||Lost to Sacramento in Pacific Conference Playoff (3–1)|
|2010||Defeated Sacramento in Pacific Conference Playoff (3–2), Def. Memphis in Championship (3–0), Lost to Columbus in Triple-A Championship Game (12–6)|
1961 Tacoma Giants
The 1961 Tacoma Giants finished the season with a record of 97–58 (.630), which still stands as the best season in the club's PCL history. No playoffs were held in 1961– instead, the Giants clinched the league championship by earning the top spot in the league's sole, eight-team division. The club finished the season going 57–10 over their final 67 games, including a 16-game winning streak, believed to be a franchise-record streak.
1969 Tacoma Cubs
The 1969 Tacoma Cubs finished the season with an 86–60 (.589) record, and earned the franchise's second league championship. The Cubs won the four-team Northern Division by 14 games to advance to the league championship. After going down 0–2 in the championship series to Eugene, then a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate, the Cubs rallied to win three straight games, clinching the five-game series. Cubs pitcher Archie Reynolds fired a complete game, two-hit shutout in game four to force a deciding fifth game. The 1969 Cubs were the first Tacoma team to win a championship playoff series.
1971 Tacoma Cubs
The Tacoma Cubs compiled a record of 78–65 (.545) and returned to the PCL Championship Series just two short years after winning the league title. This time, the Cubs would fall to the Salt Lake Angels, three games to one. After falling behind 0–1 in the series, Cubs starting pitcher Jim Colborn fired a 10-inning, complete-game winning effort in game two, surrendering only one run and evening the series. Tacoma played the series without Adrian Garrett, who had hit a franchise record 43 home runs during the regular season before being sold to Oakland on August 31.
1978 Tacoma Yankees
Tacoma finished with a record of 80–57 (.584) during their only season as a Yankees affiliate and was declared PCL Co-Champions, along with Albuquerque, after inclement weather in the Pacific Northwest forced the league office to cancel the playoffs.
1981 Tacoma Tigers
For the first time since the PCL switched to a split-season format, Tacoma made the playoffs after finishing 43–27 in the second half to win the Northern Division. The Tigers defeated Hawaii, winners of the first half, two games to one to advance to the PCL Championship Series against Albuquerque. The Dukes would go on to sweep the Tigers 3–0 on a combined score of 22–7 to win the PCL Championship.
2001 Tacoma Rainiers
While the Seattle Mariners compiled a Major League record 116 wins, the Rainiers put together an 85–59 (.590) record to win the Northern Division by 12.5 games. The 2001 Rainiers led the Pacific Coast League with a 3.74 team ERA, while the offense finished fifth in the league in runs scored. Tacoma defeated Sacramento 3–2, after falling behind in the series 2–1, to move on to the Championship Series. Tacoma and New Orleans were scheduled to begin the Championship Series on September 11, before the series was cancelled in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. The PCL league office announced that Tacoma and New Orleans would be declared "Co-Champions" of the 2001 season.
2005 Tacoma Rainiers
The 2005 Rainiers finished 80–64 (.556) under the guidance of manager Dan Rohn. The Rainiers clinched the Northern Division crown on the second-to-last day of the season, eliminating a Salt Lake team that had won their final nine games of the season. Tacoma dropped the first two games of the five-game division series at home against Sacramento, before taking the final three games at Raley Field to advance to the championship. After falling behind 0–1 in the series to Nashville, a season-high five errors in game two sunk the Rainiers and gave the Sounds a 2–0 series advantage. In the 13th inning of game three, eventual series MVP and current Seattle Mariners Nelson Cruz launched a three-run home run to give Nashville a 5–2 victory and the PCL Championship.
2009 Tacoma Rainiers
The 2009 Rainiers, guided by manager Daren Brown, worked a record of 74–70 to sneak into the postseason. Tacoma was quickly eliminated from championship contention after dropping the division series to Sacramento 3–1.
2010 Tacoma Rainiers
The Rainiers went into playoffs with its home ballpark, Cheney Stadium, under construction. Displaced from its home field, Rainiers were forced to look for other venues to play its playoff home games. The first round of playoff game against Sacramento Rivercats saw the Rainiers winning two straight on the road, then coming "home" to the ballpark of its parent club, the Seattle Mariners, at Safeco Field. The Rainiers then dropped two straight games at Safeco Field, before winning Game 5 to advance to the PCL Championship Series against the Memphis Redbirds.
Due to Safeco Field not being available for the Championship Series and no other ball park in the Pacific Northwest meeting PCL requirements, the Rainiers were forced to play all games in the PCL Championship Series on the road. For Games 1 and 2 (the Rainiers' "home" games) the team batted second against the "visiting" Memphis Redbirds, with AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tennessee (the Redbirds' home park) hosting all the games. Having a hostile crowd even in its "home" games, the Rainiers nonetheless swept the Redbirds in three games to win the 2010 PCL Championship.
In March 2015, the Tacoma Rainiers announced a set of new logo marks and additions to the club's uniform set. An updated version of the team's script logo, introduced in 1995, became the club's primary logo mark. A long-standing fan-favorite, the standalone "R" logo, became the team's secondary mark.
In addition to the logo marks, a new look was given to the club's home alternate, away, and batting practice uniforms. A red alternate jersey, worn with a new red hat, was added to the rotation of uniform sets. The club's new road uniform was modeled after the Tacoma Giants uniforms of the 1960s with a gray color scheme and block letters on the front. The final addition to the uniform set was a new batting practice cap, adorned with a mountain outline and a climbing axe with a baseball bat handle.
Tacoma Rainiers roster
- Tacoma Rainiers [@RainiersLand] (January 17, 2018). "Before there was Rhubarb the Reindeer, there was the Tacoma Tiger. A 350-pound jungle cat known for sleeping anywhere he wanted in Cheney Stadium. #WaybackWednesday" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Lewiston completes deal to buy Tacoma baseball franchise". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). November 30, 1951. p. 8.
- "Lewiston ready to buy Tacoma team franchise". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 30, 1951. p. 11.
- "Rainiers Reveal New Logo, Uniform Set | Tacoma Rainiers News". Tacoma Rainiers. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- "2015 Tacoma Rainiers Logo and Uniform Set | Tacoma Rainiers Content". Tacoma Rainiers. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
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