Yuma Desert Rats
The Yuma Desert Rats were a professional baseball team based in Yuma, Arizona, in the United States. From the 2005 season to the 2011 season, they were known as the Yuma Scorpions and played their home games at Desert Sun Stadium at the Ray Kroc Complex, former spring training home of the San Diego Padres.
|Yuma Desert Rats|
|Ballpark||Desert Sun Stadium|
|Colors||Black, red, white|
They were members of the Golden Baseball League from 2005 to 2010 and the North American League in 2011. They were to have joined the American West Baseball League, but left the league due to a fallout with the league's founder and C.E.O. Michael Cummings. They were sold to Godfather Media, Inc. in 2012 and had announced a name change to the Yuma Panthers, but they never played. They were sold to Tim Ferguson for 2013 and renamed the Desert Rats, but they never played either.
The team also played as the Scorpions in the Arizona Winter League from 2007 to 2011.
Golden Baseball League (2005–2010)
The Yuma Scorpions were one of the Golden Baseball League charter members in 2005 along with the Chico Outlaws, Fullerton Flyers, Long Beach Armada and San Diego Surf Dawgs in California; Mesa Miners and Surprise Fightin' Falcons in Arizona and the Japan Samurai Bears, the league's first (and so far only) traveling team. The Panthers, along with the Outlaws, Armada and Flyers remain the only charter teams still active in the league.
The team replaced the former Bullfrogs as the city of Yuma's professional baseball team. The Bulldogs played in the defunct Western Baseball League from 2000 to 2002, but folded after being financially unsuccessful and leaving a legacy of lawsuits and a trail of unpaid bills, players and employees. Other baseball teams are the Yuma Desert Dawgs of the defunct Golden State League (1995–96) and American West Leagues (1997–99). The San Diego Padres inhabited Desert Sun Stadium as their spring training complex and used it from 1968 to 1994 before they went to a new facility in Peoria, Arizona.
Affiliations with foreign leagues
On May 20, 2009 the Yuma Sun reported that the team had signed an affiliation agreement with the Colombian Professional Baseball League (CPBL), a league owned by Edgar and Edinson Rentería. Edgar played for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball at the time of the signing. Under the terms of the affiliation, the CPBL handled all on-field personnel and player issues while the team retained control of promotions, concessions, and other front-office business. The Scorpions acted as a farm team for all four CPBL teams. It was reported by some news outlets to be the first time an independent American baseball club had formed an affiliation with a foreign team or league, however, in 1972 and 1973 the California League's team based in Lodi, California had an affiliation with Nippon Professional Baseball's Nishitetsu Lions. Yuma's partnership with the CPBL was at one point reportedly being made into a feature story for ESPN.
The move was also portrayed as one that would improve the Scorpions on-field performance. Under the affiliation with the CPBL, the Scorpions went 29-47, worst in the GBL, including a 3-13 start. Several factors justify this assertion. Baseball is more popular in Venezuela than Colombia, leading to the Sun to speculate that that country will provide superior prospects to the CPBL agreement. Additionally, the previous agreement with the CPBL was only concluded hours before the start of the season, so that players had to literally get on a plane in Colombia, got off in Yuma and immediately play the season opener. The agreement with the VBF was agreed to three months prior to the start of the 2010 season. The Scorpions' Manager for 2010, Darryl Brinkley, had experience playing in Venezuela.
North American League (2011)
The Scorpions were one of six former GBL teams to join the newly formed North American League in 2010 and began play in 2011.
On April 11, 2011, Jose Canseco and his twin brother, Ozzie, were added to the teams' roster, with Jose being a manager. In August of that year, 52-year-old former Major League player and then-Scorpions infielder Tony Phillips was involved in an altercation with former Scorpions manager Mike Marshall, then with the Chico Outlaws. Phillips punched Marshall in the face during the incident, causing the latter to press battery charges against the infielder.
Changes of ownership and names
The team was sold to Godfather Media, Inc on January 31, 2012. The new owners announced they would be changing the team name to Yuma Panthers shortly thereafter on February 8, in time for the 2012 season. Additionally they announced that former Major League shortstop Garry Templeton would be replacing Canseco as field manager. The Arizona Winter League team is still known as the Scorpions.
On April 27, 2012, Godfather Media, LLC C.E.O. Michael Cummings announced that the Panthers were withdrawing from the North American League and were sitting out the 2012 season along with a team they acquired, the Orange County Flyers.
In 2012, Godfather Media, then owners of the Panthers, started a new league called the American West Baseball League and entered the Panthers as a member team.
The team was then sold to local investor Tim Ferguson and the name changed again. This time, becoming the Desert Rats. However, before they could throw a pitch, the team folded after Ferguson and the AWBL parted ways.
Scorpions who made it to the Big Leagues
Scorpions acquired by MLB teams
- Joey Gathright, OF, Boston Red Sox (2011)
- Robby Scott, LHP, Boston Red Sox (2011)
- JJ Leaper, RHP Oakland Athletics (2011)
- Lee Cruz, OF, Houston Astros (2010)
- Gilbert De La Vara, LHP, Detroit Tigers (2010)
- Brandon Fowler, C, San Diego Padres (2010)
- Rylan Sandoval, SS, New York Mets (2010)
- Reynaldo Rodriguez, 1B, Boston Red Sox (2009)
- Ryan Barba, SS, Atlanta Braves (2008)
- Donald Brandt, P Milwaukee Brewers (2008)
- Derrick Hale, SS, Cincinnati Reds (2008)
- Kennard Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles (2007)
- Charles Merricks, P, Philadelphia Phillies (2007)
- Scott Richmond, P, Toronto Blue Jays (2007)
- Sergio Romo, P, San Francisco Giants (2007)
- Cardoza Tucker, P, Houston Astros (2006)
- Dane De La Rosa, P, Tampa Bay Rays (2005)
- Jason Dewey, C, Colorado Rockies, (2005)
Major Leaguers who have played for the Scorpions
- 2005: Alex Arias SS, Joe Davenport P, Carl Sadler P, Jason Dewey
- 2006: Rusty Meacham P
- 2007: Pasqual Matos C
- 2008: Mike Esposito P, Felipe Lira P
- 2009: Emiliano Fruto, P
- 2010: Bill Pulsipher P, Alex Prieto P, Cha-Seung Baek P, Mike Johnson P
- 2011: Joey Gathright OF, Jose Canseco DH, Tony Phillips IF/OF, Ozzie Canseco OF/DH
Golden Baseball League:
|2005||47||43||.522||2nd, Arizona Division||Did not qualify|
|2006||32||48||.400||4th/6th||Did not qualify|
|2007||42||34||.553||3rd/2nd||Did not qualify|
|2008||47||39||.547||2nd/4th, South Division||Did not qualify|
|2009||19||20||.487||5th, South Division||Did not qualify|
|2010||14||31||.311||4th, South Division||Did not qualify|
North American League:
|2011||35||53||.398||5th, South Division||Did not qualify|
- Yuma Scorpions (Arizona Winter League team)
- Edward Carifio (May 20, 2009). "Scorpions to be affiliated with Colombian pro league". Yuma Sun. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Edward Carifio (May 25, 2009). "Time will tell on effectiveness of Scorpions deal". Yuma Sun. Archived from the original on February 10, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Baseball Fever. November 12, 2010. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Lodi_Lions
- Baseball Reference. November 12, 2010. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Lodi_Orions
- ESPN Filming Feature Story on Yuma Scorpions, GBL website, June 30, 2009
- "Scorpions sign affiliation deal with Venezuelan league". Yuma Sun. 2010-02-26. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Scorps should be improved in 2010 | deal, league, year - Sports". Yuma Sun. 2010-03-01. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Jose Canseco to manage independent league team - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- Gleeman, Aaron (Aug 12, 2011). "Former big leaguers Tony Phillips and Mike Marshall fight as Jose Canseco manages". Hardball Talk. NBC Sports. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- "New for 2012: Yuma Panthers". Ballparkdigest.com. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Yuma baseball team getting 'fresh start' as Panthers, new, team, panthers - News". Yuma Sun. Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- New for 2012: Hawaii Stars, Baseball Digest, May 7, 2012
- "Yuma Panthers baseball to skip summer in Yuma", Yuma Sun, April 27, 2012
- Ferguson walks away from AWBL, Ballpark Digest, January 25, 2013