(1883, 1885–1891, 1893–1894, 1898–1904, 1906–1914, 1918–1960, 1974–1976)
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Pacific Coast League (1909–1914, 1918–1960, 1974–1976)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1938, 1939|
The Sacramento Solons were a minor league baseball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Pacific Coast League during several periods (1903, 1905, 1909–1914, 1918–1960, 1974–1976). The current Sacramento River Cats began play in 2000.
The team derived its name from Sacramento's status as capital of California. Solon was an early Greek lawmaker and the term "solons" was often used by journalists as a synonym for "senators." Solon Huntington was a prominent Sacramento businessman during the 19th century, though less famous than his brother (Collis Huntington) and son (Henry Huntington).The team was also known at times as the Sacramento Sacts, an abbreviation of the name of the city, and the Sacramento Senators.
A Sacramento team played 1900–1902 in 1899–1902 iteration of the California League. This team was called the Senators, but also the Gilt Edges. That team then became a charter member to the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1903, called the Sacramento Solons (also known as the Sacts or the Senators). Other teams forming the PCL were the Los Angeles Angels, Portland Beavers, Oakland Oaks, San Francisco Seals and Seattle Indians. Although the Solons finished second in the inaugural year, attendance was not good and the team moved to Tacoma for the 1904 season, renamed the Tacoma Tigers. The Tigers won the PCL pennant in 1904 and won the first half of the split 1905 season before falling off so dramatically in the second half that the team was returned to Sacramento to finish out the season, where it lost the postseason series to the Angels.
The Sacramento team moved to Fresno in 1906, renamed the Fresno Raisin Eaters, then returned to Sacramento in 1907, where it played in the California League for the next three seasons. The Solons returned to the PCL in 1909, but were mired in the second division for the next few years. In 1914, attendance was so bad that the Solons moved to San Francisco in the middle of the season, finishing out the year as the San Francisco Missions. The team was sold to Salt Lake City businessman Bill "Hardpan" Lane after that season and moved there for the 1915 season, renamed the Salt Lake Bees.
When Portland dropped out of the league after the 1917 season, a new Sacramento franchise was admitted to the PCL in 1918. For most of its existence, the Sacramento team finished in the second division, but there were a few bright spots. Originally known as the Senators, the team was purchased by Branch Rickey in 1935 and renamed the Sacramento Solons. Rickey's close friend and business partner Philip Bartelme served as the Solons' president from 1936 to 1944. The Solons finished first in 1937 but lost the postseason series to the San Diego Padres. In 1942 the Solons won their first – and only – Pacific Coast League pennant.
These were the glory years of the Pacific Coast League, during which it was unrivaled for the attention of West Coast baseball fans. The Solons drew reasonably well when featured opponents included teams from Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco and Oakland. But after 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to California, the aforementioned teams had removed to Spokane, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Vancouver respectively. Moreover, the relative proximity of the San Francisco Giants also took its toll on attendance. After the 1960 season, the team was sold and moved to Honolulu and renamed the Hawaii Islanders for 1961. The franchise still exists as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
Minor League Return
The third version of the Sacramento Solons began during the AAA realignment in 1969 as the Eugene Emeralds. After the 1973 season, it was determined that Eugene was too small to support PCL baseball, and the team was moved to Sacramento for the 1974 season, taking the name of its predecessor teams, the Sacramento Solons. The Solons' old stadium, Edmonds Field, had long since been demolished. The only available facility was 23,500-seat Hughes Stadium, a football facility, the dimensions of which made the stadium a hitters' paradise. Left field, in particular, was less than the regulation minimum 250 feet from home plate. Despite two consecutive last place finishes, the Solons led the PCL in attendance due to the home run barrage. The Solons changed affiliations and the Texas Rangers refused to allow their top prospects to play in the decrepit Hughes Stadium with its bandbox dimensions. The Solons' owners "leased" the team to San Jose for the 1977 and 1978 seasons, when the team was known as the San Jose Missions, in hopes of obtaining a new baseball-only facility. After two seasons of dismal attendance in San Jose, the team was sold and moved to Ogden, Utah, for the 1979 season.
The Pacific Coast League returned to the capital city in 2000 when a group of area businessmen led by majority owner Art Savage purchased the Vancouver Canadians of the PCL and moved the team to Sacramento. Foregoing the traditional name of Sacramento baseball teams, the owners named the team the Sacramento River Cats. Unlike their predecessors, who were often troubled at the box office, the River Cats have led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance during each of its seasons in Sacramento; the River Cats have taken up residence at the newly built Raley Field, which was constructed specifically for baseball.
The Solons were affiliated with the following major league teams:
|1936–1944||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1949–1951||Chicago White Sox|
- O'Neal, Bill. The Pacific Coast League 1903–1988. Eakin Press, Austin TX, 1990. ISBN 0-89015-776-6.
- Snelling, Dennis. The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903–1957 McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 1995. ISBN 0-7864-0045-5.
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