Bangor Blue Ox
|Bangor Blue Ox|
|Ballpark||Larry Mahaney Diamond|
|Former league(s)||Northeast League (1996–97)|
The Bangor Blue Ox were a minor league baseball team based in Bangor, Maine. The team played in the Northeast League (now the Can-Am League). The Northeast League was an independent baseball league and as such none of its teams had an affiliation with Major League Baseball. The team existed from 1996 to 1997 and played its home games at Larry Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.
When the Northeast League was formed and played its first season in 1995 it was a 6 team league with all six teams being located in the State of New York. After the first season only 3 of the six original teams would return for a second season. The league wanted to expand into New England and it chose Bangor and West Warwick, Rhode Island as two new teams for the 1996 season. The Blue Ox and the Northeast League had hoped that moving a team to the city would lead Bangor to build a new ballpark for the team. In the meantime the Blue Ox would play their home games at Mahaney Diamond on the University of Maine campus.
The Blue Ox would have a fairly successful season in their first year, finishing 3rd in the league with a 46-33 record. They would be led by former Major Leaguer, Oil Can Boyd, who at age 36 was attempting a comeback. Boyd would finish the season at 10-0 with a 3.22 ERA. In 1997 the Northeast League would take on 2 new teams and expand to 8 overall. The Blue Ox would finish the season at 40-43, which was only good enough for 6th place. At the end of the 1997 season it was clear that the new baseball field would not be built by the city in the near future. Although Mahaney Diamond was a very suitable college baseball field it was simply not designed to be a permanent minor-league park. The team was sold to new ownership and moved to Quebec City following the 1997 season. Today the former Blue Ox franchise is known as the Quebec City Capitales.
Other players with Major League experience included pitcher Mike Smith in 1996 (five seasons with the Reds, Pirates, and Expos), and in 1997 Fernando Ramsey (one season with the Cubs), outfielder Bob Zupcic (four seasons with the Red Sox and White Sox), pitcher Joe Grahe (seven seasons with the Angels, Rockies, and Phillies), and pitcher George Tsamis (one season with the Twins).
Each season featured a skipper who had played in the Major Leagues. In 1996, former infielder/outfielder Dick Phillips, who had already managed almost 1,500 minor league games in the Twins', Padres', and Brewers' systems before piloting Bangor, played four seasons in the early 1960s for the Giants and Senators. Managing the Blue Ox in their second and final season, former catcher/first baseman Roger LaFrancois had appeared in eight games in 1982 with the Red Sox.
- Chase, Peter. "Blue Ox shirt". Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Mike Smith". Baseball Reference. Sport Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Fernando Ramsey". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Bob Zupcic". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Joe Grahe". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "George Tsamis". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Dick Phillips". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Roger LaFrancois". The Baseball Cube. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- Chase, Peter. "Blue Ox cap". Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved June 13, 2020.