By Brian A. Bennett
In October of 1956, the Rochester Red Wings were marked for extinction by the parent St. Louis Cardinals. Given a chance to purchase the club and the ballpark on Norton St. in which it played, Morrie Silver and 8,000 local baseball fans responded. In what was called the "72-day Miracle," Rochester Community Baseball Inc. was born.
In its 40 years of existence, RCB has visited the heights of prosperity and the depths of controversy. Going against the trends, and often the odds, the franchise has enjoyed a unique existence.
The changing fates of the organization were mirrored on the field as well. Six division titles, six pennants and five Governors' Cup championships have been captured over the past four decades. Mediocre (and sometimes horrible) teams have taken the field as well.
Yet, through the years, the Red Wing franchise has enjoyed remarkable continuity. The team continues as the International League's senior member, an uninterrupted presence since 1885. The club has had only two parent teams: the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baltimore Orioles, the latter since 1961.
The saga of Rochester Community Baseball is a story of which all Red Wing fans can be proud. The team's continued existence is perhaps the most notable accomplishment; during the past 40 years it has seen competing teams come and go. During that same period the organization was one of few in organized baseball to own, operate and renovate its own stadium.
On A Silver Diamond is a detailed chronicle of the history of
Rochester Community Baseball from its creation in 1957 to The Final Game
at Silver Stadium in 1996. It is a study of the franchise on the field
and off, revealing both the game and the business of baseball as it has
been played and operated in Rochester over the past four decades. Detailed
within are the accomplishments of Luke Easter, Bob Gibson, Steve Demeter
and Bobby Grich, "Finigan's Rainbow," and the longest game.
Likewise remembered are the record profits and attendance figures, the
Proxy Fight, and, most recently, the struggle for a new stadium. It is
essential reading for any Red Wing fan who wishes to understand the trials
and successes of this remarkable and unique franchise.
"Bennett covers all the bases.... 'On A Silver Diamond' deals with events of the Red Wings, both on and off the field. The book includes in-depth details of the struggle for a new stadium, which culminated in the construction of Frontier Field."
- Tom Murphy, sports columnist, Wolfe Publications
"Bennett... has undertaken the most ambitious research and history on the team to date."
- Bob Matthews, Democrat & Chronicle column, 4/30/95
Chapter 1: The Judgement of 8,000 People (1956-1960)
Chapter 2: Birds of a Different Feather (1961-1965)
Chapter 3: Prosperity, and Finally, A Pennant (1966-1970)
Chapter 4: The Altobelli Era (1971-1976)
Chapter 5: Front Office Follies (1977-1982)
Chapter 6: The Darkness and the Dawn (1983-1985)
Chapter 7: If You Re-Build It, Will They Come? (1986-1990)
Chapter 8: Tarnished Silver (1991-1994)
Chapter 9: The Final Season(s) (1995-1996)
Also by Brian Bennett: "1928 - A New Team, A New Owner and the Promise of a New Stadium Spark a Rebirth of Baseball in Rochester." This article details the purchase of the team by the St. Louis Cardinals in late 1927 (after a bid by golfer Walter Hagen fell through and almost left the city without a team), the naming of the team as "Red Wings," and the financing and construction of Red Wing (later Silver) Stadium. It is available on the Red Wings website.