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Quad Cities River Bandits

Quad Cities River Bandits
Founded in 1901
Davenport, Iowa
Team logo Cap insignia
Current Single-A (1960–present)
Previous Formerly Class B, Class D
Minor league affiliations
League Midwest League (1960–present)
Major league affiliations
Current Houston Astros (2013–present)
Minor league titles
League titles (10)
  • 1914
  • 1933
  • 1936
  • 1949
  • 1968
  • 1971
  • 1979
  • 1990
  • 2011
  • 2013
Team data
Nickname Quad Cities River Bandits (2008–present)
Previous names
  • Swing of the Quad Cities (2004–2007)
  • Quad City River Bandits (1992–2003)
  • Quad City Angels (1985–1991)
  • Quad City Cubs (1979–1984)
  • Quad City Angels (1962–1978)
  • Quad City Braves (1961)
  • Davenport Braves (1960)
  • Davenport DavSox (1957–1958)
  • Davenport Tigers (1951–1952)
  • Davenport Quads (1950)
  • Davenport Pirates (1948–1949)
  • Davenport Cubs (1946–1947)
  • Davenport Blue Sox (1929–1937)
  • Davenport Blue Sox (1913–1916)
  • Davenport Prodigals (1909–1912)
  • Davenport Knickerbockers (1906)
  • Davenport Riversides (1905)
  • Davenport River Rats (1901–1904)
  • Davenport Pilgrims (1891)
  • Davenport Hawkeyes (1889)
  • Davenport Onion Weeders (1888)
  • Davenport Brown Stockings (1879)
Ballpark Modern Woodmen Park (1931–present)
Previous parks
  • Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds (1929–1930)
  • Blue Sox Stadium (1909–1916)
Main Street Baseball
Manager Josh Bonifay
General Manager Andrew Chesser

The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Houston Astros, that plays in the Midwest League. Its home games are played at Modern Woodmen Park (formerly John O'Donnell Stadium) in Davenport, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities. The address is 209 S Gaines Street.


  • Early Quad City baseball history 1
    • Post-World War II Davenport teams 1.1
    • An interrupted marriage - Midwest League era: 1960–present 1.2
    • Franchise team names 1.3
  • History of franchise ownership 2
  • History of Davenport ballparks 3
  • 2004: Major Renovation 4
  • Notable alumni 5
  • All 20th Century Team 6
  • Roster 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early Quad City baseball history

Tracing back to 1879, Quad City professional baseball has a rich history that includes teams in Davenport, Moline and Rock Island. The 1879 Davenport Brown Stockings played one season in the Northwestern League beginning a baseball history in the area. Davenport teams with catchy names (Onion Weeders, Pilgrims, Hawkeyes) played before the turn of the 20th century in a various leagues.[1]

In 1901, play began in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (Three-I) with teams Davenport and Rock Island as charter members. The Davenport team set the foundation of the franchise that exists today. The Making up the rest of the 1901 Three-I League teams were: Terre Haute, Bloomington, Cedar Rapids, Rockford, Evansville and Decatur. The Davenport team continued to change their name frequently in the early years of their Three-I play: River Rats (1901–04), Riversides (1905), Knickerbockers (1906), Prodigals (1909–12) and Davenport Blue Sox (1913–1916). Davenport won their first Three-I Championship in 1914. [1]

The Quad Cities area was able to support two teams in this era. In 1914, a third Quad City team was added, when Moline also gained a franchise, beginning play in July, 1914 when the Danville Speakers relocated to Moline and the Moline Plowboys were established. Moline would have success, winning Three-I Championships in 1915, 1921 and 1937.

The Moline Plowboys were Class D affiliates of the Detroit Tigers (1922), St Louis Browns (1931–32), Chicago Cubs (1937–40) and the Philadelphia A's (1947–48). From 1920-22 the Plowboys were managed by player-manager Earle Mack, son of Connie Mack. The Rock Island slanders were Class D affiliates of the St. Louis Browns (1932) and Cincinnati Reds (1933). In 1922, Rock Island left the Three-I to join the Mississippi Valley League (MVL), followed by Moline a year later.

Unable to sustain their teams over time, Rock Island's final season of play was 1937. Moline lasted a decade longer, playing their last game in 1948. The Moline franchise played home games at Browning Field and Rock Island played at Douglas Park.[1] In an exhibition on April 12, 1920 The Plowboys defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-1 in the first "major-league" game played at Browning.[1] Both Douglas Park and Browning Field are still in existence today.

On May 26, 1931, Davenport began play in the newly built Municipal Stadium, nicknamed the "Muny." On the Muny field, Rock Island and Davenport played each other in the championship series in 1932 and 1933. Rock Island won the '32 series and the title in six games.[1] Davenport rebounded to win the MVL title in 1933 (the final season of the MVL). The 1933 team was led by Ed Hall's 151 RBI and Como Cotelle's .407 average.[1] The Davenport Blue Sox played in the Western League from 1934-1937 as a Class A affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1936 team continued the strong decade and claimed the Western League championship. The 1937 team was managed by player-manager John "Eagle Beak" Fitzpatrick. This is noteworthy as Fitzpatrick returned 25 years later to manage the Angels in 1962[1] [2]

Post-World War II Davenport teams

After a nine season baseball hiatus during WWII, baseball returned in 1946. The Davenport Cubs rejoined the Three-I League as the Class B affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Led by future MLB players Roy Smalley and Rube Walker, the 1946 team started the new era successfully, winning the regular season Three-I Title.[3][4] Keeping the moniker of the MLB franchise, from 1948 to 1949 The Davenport Pirates were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Future MLB stars Bob Purkey, Cy Young Winner Vern Law and slugger Frank Thomas were on the 1949 Pirates, who swept Evansville, 3-0, to win the Three-I championship. The 1949 season also saw Davenport draw 133,505 fans, a franchise record that would stand until 1981.[5]

After the 1950 "Davenport Quads" operated as an independent, the 1951 and 1952 squads became the Davenport Tigers as the Class B affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Harvey Kuenn starred for the 1952 team, hitting .340 and earning a late season call up to Detroit. Kuenn then won the 1953 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award.[6] Sadly, after going 54-69 in 1952, the Detroit Tigers switched minor league cities, leaving Davenport without an affiliate and a team for four seasons. Then, in 1957, baseball returned to the Muny as the Davenport DavSox began Three-I league play as the Class B affiliate of the Chicago White Sox for two seasons.[7]

An interrupted marriage - Midwest League era: 1960–present

When the Davenport DavSox moved to Lincoln, Nebraska after the 1958 season, Davenport was left again without a team and a MLB affiliate for 1959. However, local businessman Hugo "Hooks" Kohn started a drive to bring a new team to Davenport. Kohn was a local baseball enthusiast and a leading pioneer/player of "Diamond Ball," a Davenport game that eventually led to today's softball.[8] With the Kohn heading the "Quad City Baseball Fans Association," a Davenport team was secured for the 1960 season as a Milwaukee Braves affiliate. This move solidified Davenport as a true baseball town and the city has operated with a team every year since. The Quad City Baseball Fans Association would go on to operate the Davenport franchise from 1960 through 1986.[9] The 1960 Davenport Braves became a member of the fledgling Midwest League (MWL), a partnership that has operated uninterrupted in the subsequent decades. The 1960 team joined Waterloo, Iowa; Keokuk, Iowa; Dubuque, Iowa; Clinton, Iowa; Kokomo, Indiana; Quincy, Illinois and Decatur, Illinois to form an 8-team league.[10] The Davenport franchise has been a member of the Midwest League ever since, as has Clinton. The creation of the Midwest League essentially ended the Three-I, which folded after the 1961 season. In its long history, the Three-I hosted teams in 31 cities.[11]

In 1961 the franchise permanently dropped "Davenport" and became the Quad City Braves. In 1962 Quad Cities became a farm team of the expansion Los Angeles (later California) Angels. The affiliate change was forced when Cedar Rapids (also a Braves affiliate) was one of six Three-I teams that joined the Midwest League in 1962 after the Three-I dissolution. Thus began a lengthy affiliation with the Angels.[12] The Quad City Angels of 1963 and 1964 were managed by Chuck Tanner in his first managerial position. (Tanner would later lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series Championship in 1979.) The 1964 Angels were the first MWL team to draw more than 100,000 fans in a season. The franchise had other on field successes in the 1960s and '70's.: Fred Koenig managed the Angels to the 1968 MWL title; Mike Stubbins led the 1971 squad to another and Jim Napier led the Quad Cities Cubs title run in 1979.[13]

Except for a six-year affiliation with the Chicago Cubs (1979–84), the Angels affiliation ran from 1962 through the 1992 season. Quad Cities was then affiliate of the Houston Astros (1993 to 1998) and the Minnesota Twins (1999 to 2004). MLB Batting title winner Joe Mauer was a River Bandit during the Twins affiliation. In 2005 the Bandits became the Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, before partnering again with Houston for the 2013 season.[14]

A large brick stadium with many round windows on the bottom and many rectangle windows in groups of four line the top of the stadium. The words Modern Woodmen Park are displayed above the door
The River Bandits play at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport

US Navy parades the colors during opening ceremonies for the 2011 All-Star Game

During the 2013 season, Quad Cities became the first team in Minor League history to have two back-to-back first overall draft picks on their roster when the Astros drafted Carlos Correa for 2012 and Mark Appel for 2013.[15]

Franchise team names

The franchise had been called "Davenport" until changing to "Quad City" in 1962. The modern franchise used the nickname of its major-league affiliate through the 1991 season. In 1992, the team created its own nickname for the first time in a "name the team' contest. Subsequently , the team was the Quad City River Bandits from 1992 through the 2003. On October 20, 2003, the team was renamed the Swing of the Quad Cities; the nickname, like the previous one, was the winning entry in another "name the team" contest. However, On December 13, 2007, the team announced it would return to the "Quad Cities River Bandits" after voters in a contest (sponsored by the franchise's new owners, Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt of Main Street Baseball) chose the River Bandits name over "The Swing" and four other finalists: "Channel Cats," "The Current," "River Eagles," and "Talons."[16]

The renaming of the Bandits has proven to be one of sports’ most successful rebranding campaigns – merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team’s logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.

History of franchise ownership

After success in securing a Midwest League Franchise for Davenport beginning with the 1960 season, the non-profit Quad City Baseball Fans Association contiuned to operate the franchise from 1960 to 1986. In 1986 Chicago businessman Harry H. Semrow purchased the team from the association for $350,000, but Semrow was forced to sell after the 1987 season due to poor health.

Modern Woodmen Park 2

Richard Holtzman, another Chicago businessman who owned as many as five minor league teams, purchased the franchise from Semrow and remained as owner from 1987 until 1998.

In 1998, Holtzman sold the team to Seventh Inning Stretch, a company owned by Kevin Krause, a businessman out of Mason City, Iowa, and son of Kum & Go co-founder William Krause.

On December 28, 2006, Krause agreed to sell the team to Florida-based Main Street Baseball for an undisclosed price; the sale was completed on November 29, 2007.[17][18]

Under Main Street Baseball's ownership, led by Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt, the River Bandits sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball in the Quad Cities, winning league championships in 2011 and 2013, setting new attendance records and capturing numerous awards for their innovative promotions.[19]

Since Heller and Herrfeldt took over the Bandits, sponsorship sales, suite sales, ticket sales, and concession sales have all seen annual increases. The team's average attendance in its first year under Main Street rose by more than 56%, the largest such increase in baseball, and has climbed to nearly 3,700 fans per game. The Bandits have also led one of sports' most successful rebranding campaigns - merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009!), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team's logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.

Main Street Baseball has also been a trail-blazer, having hired the Midwest League's only female general manager (Stefanie Brown) then hiring the only African-American GM in minor league baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball, and are the only minor league club to have won back-to-back Diversity Economic Impact Engagement (DEIE) Scholarships from major league baseball since MLB started awarding them in 2012.

The River Bandits have been voted Best Family Entertainment by the Quad-City Times for each of the past five years and were recently voted by the River Cities Reader as "The Best Place for An Inexpensive Date that Doesn't Look Like It." The team won the prestigious "Golden Bobblehead" award in 2013 for best charitable promotion in Minor League Baseball for its innovative "Photo Jersey Auction" to benefit Autism Awareness. It also won a "Veeckie Award" from ESPN in 2009 for best minor league promotion ("Tattoo Night") and the "Promotion of the Year" Award from Ballpark Digest the same year for the team's "Mega-Candy Drop," as well as a Gold Award from the U.S. Army for its community service. The team has also won repeated awards for Heller's creative TV and radio ads, which have repeatedly been recognized as among the best in the industry.[19]

Colby Rasmus (Swing of the Quad Cities, 2006)

History of Davenport ballparks

Davenport teams of 1909-1916 played at a park located near 3rd and Telegraph Road.[3][20] Then, the Davenport Blue Sox of 1929 and 1930 played home games at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which had no lighting.

To sustain a baseball franchise, the city of Davenport realized a new lighted stadium was needed, with a location near downtown. A stadium had been proposed by the Davenport Levee Commission and once approved, has provided a venue to anchor baseball in Davenport for the generations to follow.

Unveiled on May 26, 1931 in Davenport's LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River, the facility was constructed entirely with local labor for a construction cost $165,000, opening with a capacity of 4,000 fans in 1931. It was a modern marvel, opening complete with light towers (first night game was June 4, 1931) and a grandstand facing the Mississippi River.

The 1931 Municipal Stadium was fondly nicknamed "The Muny."[3][20] In 1971, Municipal Stadium was renamed John O'Donnell Stadium in honor of the longtime sports editor of the Quad City Times. The ballpark has shown its beauty and staying power, hosting Midwest League All-Star Games six times: 1964, 1968, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1990, 2006 and 2011.

Many events have been held at the Stadium through the years. Some of historical note:

Numerous high school and college football events were regularly played in the stadium. St. Ambrose University and Davenport Assumption High School used the venue for home football games for a number of years. The first football game in the Muny was hosted by St. Ambrose College in September, 1931. The old bleachers along left field/3rd base line had a football press box for a number of years. The last football game played at O'Donnell was in 1986, and demolition of the football stands began in 1987.[3][20]

The team's home attendance record of 260,471 was set in 1994.[24]

Sitting on the banks of the river, the stadium has survived many floods, including major Mississippi River Floods of 1965, 1969, 1993 and 2001, all of which breached the facility. Pictures of the flooded stadium are plentiful in the news media. The Great Flood of 1993 was especially damaging to the facility.

2004: Major Renovation

Designed to combat the recurring and costly toll of flooding, a huge project was undertaken in 2004 to completely modernize and protect the facility. The project was a joint effort of The Quad City River Bandits and the City of Davenport . The result was a massive redesign of the field and grounds at Modern Woodman Park. The entire structure and field of the original 1931 stadium were redone. Only the exterior façade of the old stadium remained, with concessions, concourses, level loge boxes, and seating areas being reconstructed. The improvements essentially created a new ballpark within the shell of the old park. Other 2004 renovations included a raised playing field; a slight shift of the playing field to better face the river; removal of the drive behind the outfield fence; the addition of a berm in the outfield and the addition of exterior brick/metal columns, put in place for decoration and also to hold portable flood walls to be inserted outside the stadium. The new protections secured and protected the facility during other major Mississippi River Floods in 2008, 2011 and 2013. Before the 2004 renovations, flooding created financial and logistical problems, as the team was regularly forced to move "home" games to local facilities or other MWL venues (mostly Clinton, Iowa). The team played also several games at North Scott High School and Brady Street Stadium in 1993 and several games at Moline's Black Hawk College during the 2001 flood.[20]

The new park has incorporated modern and creative features. Including a corn field beside left-field, from which the players are introduced.[20] The team also unveiled a $347,000 HD video board shortly before the Bandits hosted the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game.[25] The renamed and remodeled Modern Woodmen Park was selected the Midwest Leagues best ballpark by Baseball America and earned a five-star rating from[26]

In 2004, Author Tim Rask released a book titled Baseball at Davenport's John O'Donnell Stadium.[27]

In 2007, stadium renaming rights went to Rock Island-based-Modern Woodmen of America for a reported 4.5 million dollars.[20][26]

Since then, Modern Woodmen Park has earned more accolades than any minor league ballpark in the country. It was voted "the best minor league ballpark in America" by the readers of USA Today and and the Midwest League's best ballpark by Baseball America. It also earned a 5-star rating from, was named one of the two most beautiful ballparks in minor league baseball by USA Today, one of the top 10 in the nation by Parade Magazine, and was selected "the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark in America" by Complex Magazine.[28]

Under Main Street Baseball's leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun new features to the ballpark, including a new outfield bar, a new picnic area, five concourse-level "loge boxes," an 80-foot long high-definition ribbon-board, a huge new 20' x 36' tall HD videoboard, a new playground, birthday room, additional office and storage space, a new concessions stand and more than a dozen new portable food carts, a Hall of Fame autographed jersey display, an unmatched collection of bobbleheads from across the country and a sponsored corn field from which the players are introduced at the game's outset.[19]

In 2011, the Bandits unveiled their new Budweiser Champions Club, a 2500 s.f. glass-enclosed multi-purpose banquet hall with glass garage doors that open and close depending on the weather. That room has helped increase wedding business by more than 500%, and is regularly sold out during the Christmas season. It was voted by as "the best ballpark renovation under $1 million."[29]

In 2014, added a 110-foot tall Ferris Wheel to the landscape of the staduim, with the Ferris Wheel located behind the left-field wall. Also, a 30-foot tall Drop-N-Twist, a mechanized gyroscope and an old-fashioned carousel to go along with a dual 300-foot long zip line, six bounce houses and a 25-foot tall rock climbing wall are in play! Also added in 2014 were three new themed areas, including a 1,500 s.f. deck featuring a firepit to keep fans warm during April and May, 51 new swivel-chair seats adjacent to the field, and 18 new extra-wide seats adjacent to the visitor's dugout, as well as four new padded seats set aside for veterans and active-duty military.

In 2015, the franchise continued to improve the ballpark with a 10,000 s.f. expansion of the third-base concourse.[19]

Notable alumni

Notable Major League Baseball players/managers/media from the history of the Davenport franchise include:[30]

All 20th Century Team

In 2000, fans selected the All 20th Century Team, which was voted on and results announced at the season's end.[3]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Minor League Baseball History". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  2. ^ John Fitzpatrick Minor League Statistics & History -
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rask, Tim; Baseball at John O'Donnell Stadium (2004) Arcadia Publishing;ISBN0-7385-3247-9
  4. ^ "1946 Davenport Cubs Statistics - Minor Leagues". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  5. ^ "pre-1960s | About | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  6. ^ "1952 Davenport Tigers Statistics - Minor Leagues". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  7. ^ "1959 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League Statistics". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  8. ^ A field of history
  9. ^ Q-C reaches 50 years in the Midwest League
  10. ^ 1960 Midwest League Statistics -
  11. ^ Era comes to close for Q-C minor league baseball
  12. ^ name="">
  13. ^ 1971 Quad Cities Angels Statistics - Minor Leagues -
  14. ^ Dinda, Joel. "Davenport, Iowa, in the Midwest League". Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  15. ^ Bierl, Matt (July 31, 2013). "Vasquez, Borchering lift Bandits to walk off win". Quad Cities River Bandits. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  16. ^ Quad Cities River Bandits (press release) (2007-12-13). "The Fans Have Spoken: 'River Bandits' Returns to the Quad Cities". 
  17. ^ Batterson, Steve (2006-12-29). "Florida Group Buys Swing of Q-C".  
  18. ^ Swing of the Quad Cities (press release) (2007-11-29). "It's official: Main Street Iowa completes purchase of Swing". 
  19. ^ a b c d
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Jewel of the Quad Cities". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Johnny Cash Live Performances
  22. ^ john o'donnell stadium [Classic Rock Concerts]
  23. ^ Flashback: Michael Nunn vs. James Toney | The Boxing
  24. ^ "Davenport's Modern Woodmen Park". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  25. ^ Batterson, Steve (17 March 2011). "Bandits adding HD video board at ballpark". Quad City Times. 
  26. ^ a b Main Street Communications | Baseball
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Swing of the Quad Cities. "From the QCA to the Big Leagues". 2005 Souvenir Program. pp. 51–52. 

External links

  • Quad Cities River Bandits' web site
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