The Tennessee Smokies are a Minor League Baseball team based in the Knoxville, Tennessee, metropolitan area. The team, which plays in the Southern League, are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Smokies Stadium, the team's ballpark, is located in the suburb of Kodak, and seats up to 8,000 fans. The team was based in Knoxville and called the Knoxville Smokies for many years before moving to Kodak and changing its name prior to the 2000 season. The team's nickname refers to the Great Smoky Mountains mountain range which permeates the region; mountains in the chain are often clouded in a hazy mist that may appear as smoke rising from the forest.
Founded in 1921
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Southern League (1964–present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Chicago Cubs (2007–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (3)|
|Division titles (4)|
|First half titles (3)|
|Second half titles (3)|
|Nickname||Tennessee Smokies (2000–present)|
|Colors||Royal blue, light blue, red, tan, white|
|Ballpark||Smokies Stadium (2000–present)|
|General Manager||Tim Volk|
|Media||MiLB.TV and WETR|
Prior professional baseball in Knoxville
Knoxville has hosted Minor League Baseball teams since the late 19th century. The city's professional baseball history dates back to 1896 with the formation of the Knoxville Indians who played two seasons in the Southeastern League. They were followed by the Knoxville Reds (1902–1905). In 1904, the Reds won the city's first professional championship in the Tennessee–Alabama League. The Knoxville Appalachians began play in 1909 as members of the original Class B South Atlantic League. They dropped out of the "Sally League" that season, but continued in the Class D Southeastern League (1910) and Appalachian League (1911–1914). The Appalachians adopted the Reds moniker from the previous Knoxville team in 1912.
The club returned to the South Atlantic loop, now Class B, as the Smokies from 1925 to 1929. On July 22, 1931, the Mobile Bears franchise of the A1 Southern Association moved to Knoxville and played as the Smokies through July 5, 1944, when the club returned to Mobile. The transfer marked the end of Knoxville's membership in the Southern Association.
In 1946, the Smokies joined the Class B Tri-State League and played in it until the loop folded in 1955. But in July 1956, when the Montgomery Rebels of the Class A South Atlantic League needed a new home, they transferred to Knoxville. The Smokies' manager that season was Earl Weaver who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Double-A and the Southern League
The Smokies were reclassified as Double-A with the rest of the Sally League in 1963, and were charter members of the Sally's successor, the Southern League, in 1964. Apart from a four-year (1968–1971) hiatus, they have continued in the Southern loop ever since.
Knoxville returned in 1972 as the Knoxville White Sox or Knox Sox, the Chicago White Sox's Double-A club. They transferred their affiliation to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980, a link that lasted until 1999. For the first 13 of those years, the team was officially known as the Knoxville Blue Jays, or locally referred to as simply the K-Jays. The historic Smokies moniker was reintroduced beginning in the 1993 season.
From 1954 to 1999, Knoxville baseball teams played in Bill Meyer Stadium, formerly known as Knoxville Municipal Stadium, on Don Ridley Field. The stadium was named for Knoxville native son and former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Billy Meyer.
Prior to 2005, the Smokies were the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and before that the Toronto Blue Jays. However, when the Cardinals purchased the El Paso Diablos, which had been the Arizona Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate, the Diamondbacks retained the Smokies as their new Double-A affiliate. On September 21, 2006, the Chicago Cubs, who had previously had a Double-A affiliation with division rival West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, reached a two-year player development contract with the Smokies through the 2008 season.
Chicago Cubs (2007–present)
In December 2008, Hall of Famer and former Chicago Cubs All-Star second baseman Ryne Sandberg was named manager for the 2009 season. Sandberg led the Smokies to a second-half Southern League North Division crown and a 3–1 divisional playoff series win over the Huntsville Stars. The Smokies would eventually fall 3-games-to-1 to the Jacksonville Suns for the 2009 Southern League Championship.
In June 2013, the then-Smokies' ownership group, led by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, sold the team to Randy Boyd, a local Knoxville businessman. Though a devoted baseball fan, Boyd is not involved in the day-to-day management of the team, delegating those responsibilities to CEO Doug Kirchhofer and General Manager Brian Cox. In 2016, speculation began that Boyd was wanting to move the Smokies back to Knoxville after he had purchased several parcels in downtown Knoxville. Boyd said he has envisioned a baseball stadium on that site, but has no plans to bring the baseball team back to Knoxville until 2025, when the current stadium contract expires, at the earliest.
On July 11, 2014, The Chicago Cubs and Tennessee Smokies announced an extension to their Player Development Contract (PDC) for the maximum possible term of four years. The agreement means the Smokies will be the Cubs' Double-A affiliate through the 2018 season.
Smokies Stadium experienced its largest crowd ever of 7,958 on May 13, 2017, against the Montgomery Biscuits. The Smokies lost the game 3–1, which was also Star Wars Night. The previous attendance record was the 7,866 on July 24, 2015, against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Smokies won the game 8–4, which was also Toy Story Night and Daddy-Daughter Date Night.
|2003||72–67||4th||Mark DeJohn||Lost to Carolina Mudcats, 3–1, in semifinals|
|2004||69–71||6th||Mark DeJohn||Defeated Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–1, in semifinals|
Declared co–Southern League champions with Mobile BayBears*
|2007||73–65||2nd||Pat Listach||Lost to Huntsville Stars, 3–2, in semifinals|
|2009||71–69||2nd||Ryne Sandberg||Defeated Huntsville Stars, 3–1, in semifinals|
Lost to Jacksonville Suns, 3–1, in championship
|2010||86–53||1st||Bill Dancy||Defeated West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, 3–1, in semifinals|
Lost to Jacksonville Suns, 3–1, in championship
|2011||83–57||1st||Brian Harper||Defeated Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–0, in semifinals|
Lost to Mobile BayBears, 3–1, in championship
|2013||76–62||T-1st||Buddy Bailey||Lost to Birmingham Barons, 3–2, in semifinals|
|Totals||1,244-1,194||—||—||1 League title, 4 Division titles|
Pre-2000 playoff results
- 1999: Lost to Orlando 3–1 in semifinals.
- 1998: Lost to Jacksonville 3–0 in semifinals.
- 1997: Lost to Greenville 3–1 in semifinals.
- 1993: Defeated Greenville 3–2 in semifinals; lost to Birmingham 3–1 in finals.
- 1991: Lost to Birmingham 3–0 in semifinals.
- 1986: Lost to Huntsville 3–1 in semifinals.
- 1985: Lost to Huntsville 3–1 in semifinals.
- 1984: Defeated Nashville 3–1 in semifinals; lost to Charlotte 3–0 in championship.
- 1982: Lost to Nashville 3–1 in first round.
- 1978: Defeated Savannah 2–1 to win league championship.
- 1974: Defeated Jacksonville 3–2 to win league championship.
Television and radio
All Tennessee Smokies games are shown live on MiLB.TV. The current voice of the Smokies is Mick Gillispie. The secondary broadcaster is Spencer Siegel. The pre and postgame shows are hosted by Matthew Peterson and Andy Brock. All games are also broadcast on Talk Radio 92.3 and AM 760 WETR in Knoxville. Bear Trax is a weekly television show hosted by Mick Gillispie and Charlie Walter about the Smokies and airs at 11pm ET on WTNZ Fox43.
Tennessee Smokies roster
- Rick Ankiel
- Carmen Cali
- Stephen Drew
- Joe Girardi
- Shawn Green
- Roy Halladay
- Dan Haren
- Dan Uggla
- David Wells
- Vernon Wells
- Jeff Kent
- Jake Fox
- Orlando Hudson
- Mark Reynolds
- Anthony Reyes
- Kerry Wood
- Miguel Montero
- Yadier Molina
- Jake Fox
- Sam Fuld
- Jeff Samardzija
- Cristian Guzmán
- Chris Carpenter
- Carlos Delgado
- Felipe López
- Jayson Werth
- Casey Blake
- Harold Baines
- Mike Timlin
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Kelvim Escobar
- Ross Ohlendorf
- Alberto González
- Kevin Cash
- Gabe Gross
- Reed Johnson
- DeWayne Wise
- Micah Owings
- Sean Gallagher
- Kevin Hart
- Carmen Pignatiello
- Brandon Lyon
- Dustin Nippert
- Tony Peña
- Doug Slaten
- Bill Murphy
- Starlin Castro
- Tyler Colvin
- Fred McGriff
- Jake Arrieta
- Javier Baez
- Kris Bryant
- Jorge Soler
- Addison Russell
- Kyle Schwarber
- Green, Andrew (October 15, 2014). "Smokies Unveil New Logos, Colors, Uniforms". Tennessee Smokies. Minor League baseball. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- "Community". Tennessee Smokies. Minor League baseball. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- "Front Office". Tennessee Smokies. Minor League baseball. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- "Knoxville Baseball Year-By-Year History" (PDF). 2019 Tennessee Smokies Media Guide. Minor League Baseball. 2019. p. 66. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- Knoxville News-Sentinel archives – June 28, 2013
- "Randy Boyd pays $6M for Knox Rail Salvage property". WBIR.com. 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
- "Boyd: Smokies baseball to stay in Kodak until at least 2025". WBIR.com. 2016-10-14. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
- Tennessee Smokies Press Release – June 11, 2014
- Tennessee Smokies Press Release – October 15, 2014
- "The Largest Crowd in Smokies Stadium History Shows Up for Star Wars Night". Minor League Baseball. May 13, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Tennessee Smokies Press Release – July 24, 2015