Rochester, N.Y. isn’t exactly the first city that comes to mind when thinking about big market professional sport teams.
The closest city, to Rochester, with big market teams is an hour southwest in Buffalo, N.Y., home to the NHL Sabres and NFL Bills, and the next closest city across Lake Ontario, in Toronto.
Although, Rochester is home territory to the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills, Rochester has more professional sports teams, of its own, than any other single city in the country, while also producing more professional hockey players than any single U.S. city in the country.
Their tie to the Sabres and Bills lie with Sabres’ owner and Rochester billionaire, Tom Golisano, and the Bills training camp is held at St. John Fisher College, home of the Cardinals, in Rochester. Rochester is also home to the NHL Americans that are affiliated with the Sabres.
Rochester was named as the top sports market in the country, by Street & Smith’s Sport Business Journal; the No. 10 “best golf city” in America, by Golf Magazine and the best sports town in the country, by Scarborough Research.
The city holds one of six franchises in the history of North American professional sports that have been played in the same city, uninterrupted since the 1800s. This team is the Triple-A baseball, Rochester Red Wings. The other five cities’ teams include the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Among North American cities with, at least, seven professional teams, Rochester was the only city whose teams all have cumulative winning, regular season records.
Rochester doesn’t limit itself to major sport teams, thought, but also extreme snow sports.
The area has a dozen ski resorts that are open year-round.
Bristol Mountain is home to the steepest vertical slope in the county.
There are also 19 colleges and universities in Rochester that, mostly, compete at the Division II and III level.
Monroe Community College (MCC), which should compete in the NJCAA, is a dominant force in Division II athletics capturing several National Championships in men’s ice hockey and women’s soccer. MCC is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, much like Division I universities, Buffalo and Albany.
The Division I exceptions in Rochester is Hobart College that compete D-I in men’s lacrosse and RIT men’s hockey.
RIT hockey consistently ranks in NCAA polls’ Top 25, while walking away with two consecutive conference championships in the last three-years. Recently, senior, Steve Pinizzotto, was called up with the NHL Washington Capitals.
Despite ice hockey reigning as the dominant sport in Rochester, the city has deemed the titles of Baseball City, USA and Soccer Town, USA, instead.
Rapper and songwriter, Beneficial, raps:
“We got sports of all sorts, the Roc has it all, whether it’s soccer, hockey, foot, base or basketball. You can check the record books for the Royals and the Amerks, and we got the Rhinos, Redwings and the Rattlers.”
According to the Rochester Sports Project, since 1877, 29 teams in eight professional sports have represented the city:
Also known as the Hornets (1936-1956) and were part of the original International Hockey League (IHL) in 1935-1936.
The Amerks are one of the oldest franchises in the AHL as they celebrated their 50th consecutive season in 2005-2006. Their years of unbroken league membership ranks second to the Hershey Bears.
They play at the almost 12,000 seated Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial in downtown Rochester and have won six Calder Cups in their 16 championship appearances: 1957, 1960, 1965-1968, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2000.
In addition, the Amerks have won six regular season titles, 14 division champions and three conference champions.
The Americans were the farm team to both the NHL Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers, until last year, when the team halted their affiliation with the Sabres and stayed solely with the Panthers, while the Sabres took their team northeast to Portland, Maine’s AHL Pirates.
Rochester Knighthawks “K-Hawks” (National Lacrosse League (NLL): 1995-present)
The K-Hawks are one of the leagues most successful franchises as they set a league record in 2006 for reaching the playoffs in each of their first 13 seasons and won two championships in 1997 and 2007.
Each season, the Knighthawks have ranked at the top of the league standings—their worst, coming in third place, next to the Boston Blazers and Philadelphia Wings in 1995.
Every year, since 1997, the ‘Hawks have managed to plug out player awards. In 1997, goaltender, Steve Dietrich was championship game MVP.
Other awards include John Grant, Jr. (2000 – Rookie of the Year), Pat O’Toole (2003 – Goaltender of the Year), Paul Day (2004 – Les Bartley Award), Andrew Turner (2005 – Defensive Player of the Year) and 2007 reigned supreme for the team in the league by awarding four players: John Grant, Jr. (Most Valuable Player and Champion’s Cup MVP), Ed Comeau (Les Bartley Award) and Steve Toll (Transition Player of the Year).
Rochester Rattlers (Major League Lacrosse (MLL): 2001-1008)
As part of the National Division in the Eastern Conference, they made the playoffs in 2001 and 2005, and in 2007 made history by being involved in the highest scoring game in MLL history in their overtime victory against the Denver Outlaws.
In 2008, the Rattlers won their first and only MLL championship in a 16-15 OT win against the Philadelphia Barrage.
Unfortunately, that same year, Rochester sold their franchise to their Canadian neighbours in Toronto.
Rochester Greywolves “The Pack” (Canadian-American League (CanAm): 2008-present)
Also known as the Rochester Iroquois from 1930-1970.
Coming back as a team, more than, 20-years later, in 2008, the Pack, previously named the Iroquois until the 1970s, became a part of the only Canadian box lacrosse league that contains teams in the United States. The CanAm League is comprised of teams, mostly, from western New York and Ontario.
The Greywolves, in their first year back since 1984, made a President’s Cup appearance, but ended with a record of 7-11 and hope for a winning season in 2009 as they see their first home opener of the year on May 1, at 8 p.m. at the ESL centre in Rochester against Buffalo.
The team serves as a talent pool for the Knighthawks.
Rochester Iroquois (North American Amateur Lacrosse Association: 1930-1984)
The Iroquois were an American box lacrosse team dating back to the 1930s as part of the North American Amateur Lacrosse Association. In 1970 the team switched leagues to CanAm and changed their name to the Greywolves.
Their franchise ended in 1984 when the team made it to the President’s Cup, but came back to Rochester more than 20-years later.
Rochester Rhinos (United Soccer League First Division (USL): 1996-present)
Also known as the Raging Rhinos, in 13-year history, have never failed to make the playoffs and appeared in the championship game six times: 1996, 1998-2001 and 2006. They have been league champions three times: 1998, 2000 and 2001.
The team has also beat three Major League Soccer (MLS) teams en route to winning the U.S. Open Cup in 1999, becoming the only non-MLS team to win the cup.
From 1996-2004, the club was a league leader in attendance and named one of the top five minor league sport franchises by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.
Their home field is at the, almost, 14,000-seated Rochester Rhinos Stadium at PAETEC Park in downtown Rochester.
Rochester Lancers (North American Soccer League (NASL): 1967-1980)
Part of the American Soccer League in 1967-1969.
After three-years competing in the American Soccer League, the Lancers were bumped up a level and won the league championship in their first year with the North American Soccer League.
A year later, in 1971, they won the division title and it wasn’t until five-years later that the team won their second division title.
The Lancers made it to the playoffs six times in their 13-year history and ended with a 135-146-13 record.
Western New York Football Club Pride (United Soccer League Women’s League (USL W-League): 2008-present)
Also known as Rochester Rhinos Women (2005-2008) and Rochester Ravens (1996-2005).
The team is the successor to the Rochester Rhinos Women and was originally founded as the Ravens in 1996, but was later sold and re-launched with a new name.
WNY FC rosters two of the worlds best soccer players with Adjoa Bayor (Ghana) and Natalie Martineau (Canada).
Bayor is the “skipper of the Black Queens,” also known as the Captain of the Ghana Women’s National Team. In April 2007, she was a member of the World All-Star’s team and won the African American Play of the Year award in 2003.
Rochester Rhinos Women (United Soccer League Women’s League (USL W-League): 2005-2008)
After switching owners from the Ravens in 2005, the Rhino’s Women saw their best year in 2004 when they ended third in the league and in 2007, despite coming in fourth place, they made it to the National Semifinals in the playoffs for the first time.
Rochester Ravens (United Soccer League Women’s League (USL W-League): 1996-2005)
As part of the W-League, the Ravens started their first few years as a juggernaut in the league, playing host to the championship in 1997. In that summer, the team played the U.S. Women’s National Team in Rochester, losing, 8-0.
Rochester Red Wings (International League (Triple-A): 1899-present)
Also known as the Rochester Bronchos (1899-1907), Rochester Hustlers (1908-1920), Rochester Colts (1921) and Rochester Tribe (1922-1928).
The Red Wings are the oldest and longest running minor league franchise in the history of professional sports.
In addition, sport historian, Douglas Brei, reported that the Wings are only one of two franchises in North America to have captured a league championship in every decade of the 20th century.
Currently, the team is the Triple-A affiliate to the Minnesota Twins that produced players like Hall of Famer, Cal Ripkin, Jr. (Baltimore Orioles) and 2006 American League MVP, Justin Morneau (Minnesota Twins).
From 1929-1960, the Wings were the farm team for the MLB St. Louis Cardinals and in 1961 began the 42-year stint to the Baltimore Orioles.
On April 18, 1981, the Red Wings, along with the Pawtucket Red Sox made baseball history when they held the record for the longest professional baseball game, lasting a total of 33 innings and eight-hours, 25-minutes over the course of three days.
The team has captured 20 league championships: 1899, 1901, 1909-1911, 1928-1931, 1939, 1940, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997.
Rochester Tribe (International League (IL Double-A): 1922-1928)
In their six-year career, the Tribe went 534-457, making two second place rankings in the league.
Fan favourites and Hall of Famers, Rabbit Maranville and Jocko Conlan (center field), spent the 1927 season with the Tribe. Rochester native and professional golfer, Walter Hagen, owned the team.
Rochester Colts (International League (IL): 1922)
In their only season in the league, the Colts, under management of IL Hall of Famer, George Stallings, ended with a record of 100-68 and were 20 games behind the Baltimore Orioles that were in the peak of their IL dynasty.
Rochester Hustlers (International League: 1908-1920)
The Hustlers ended their career with a losing record, 642-671. Their best record came in 1913 when hey finished 92-62 and lost by four-points in the league championship game to the Newark Indians.
The next year, the team finished in third place and after that, began their downfall after switching managers from, John Ganzel.
Rochester Bronchos (Eastern League American Association: 1899-1907)
The Bronchos first season was impressive as they ended up winning the league championship and ended their career with three titles: 1899, 1910 and 1911.
The team saw their worst season in 1903, when the finished last in the league with a 34-97 record, but jumped back up in the standings the next year.
Despite their career, so-so, record, the Bronchos finished with the third best ERA in the league and produced six of the top baseball player in the country with Bob Barr, Henry Blauvelt, Sandy Griffin, Jimmy Knowles, Harry Lyons and Ted Scheffler.
(In the NY-Penn league is Rochester rural, Batavia baseball, which is included as part of Rochester sports history).
Batavia Muckdogs (New York-Penn Minor League (NY-Penn): 1939-present)
Also known as the Batavia Indians (1957-1959), Batavia Pirates (1961-1965), Batavia Trojans (1966-1987) and Batavia Clippers (1988-1997).
The Muckdogs are an affiliate, NY-Penn minor league baseball team to the MLB St. Louis Cardinals since 2007.
In the past, the team was a branch of other Major League Baseball teams: Cleveland Indians (1957-1959, 1976-1986), Pittsburgh Pirates (1961-1965), Philadelphia Phillies (1967, 1988-2006), Detroit Tigers (1968-1971) and New York Mets (1972-1974).
In 2008, they swept the NY-Penn League championship against Jamestown.
Batavia Clippers (New York-Pennsylvania League: 1988-1997)
Part of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League from 1939-1953.
As the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies affiliation minor league team, the Clippers were a huge success before changing their name to the Muckdogs in ’97.
The team, made it to the finals 10 times, walking away as back-to-back league champions in 1945 and 1946. They were never ranked less than seventh place.
Batavia Trojans (New York-Pennsylvania League (NY-Penn): 1966-1987)
The Trojans had a semi-decent career, coming second in the league in 1967 and 1969. The only time they made it to the playoffs was in 1977 when they lost to the Jamestown Expos under manager, Gene Dusan and ended third in the league.
They produced notable players like Mike Jeffcoat, Andy Allanson, Dave Gallagher and Kelly Gruber for Major League Baseball’s Phillies, Tigers, Mets and Indians.
Batavia Pirates (New York-Pennsylvania League (NY-Penn): 1961-1965)
As the only MLB affiliation to Pittsburgh, the team made it to the playoffs twice in their career going, 1-1. The first year, they lost, but captured their only winning record and finished in third place.
Their final four-year record was, 259-365.
Batavia Indians (New York-Pennsylvania League (NY-Penn): 1957-1959)
The Indians best year came in 1957 when they finished in fourth place, but lost in the league finals. The team failed to have a winning season in the three-years they were in the league.
As the affiliation minor league team to the Cleveland Indians, they produced a handful of superstars picked by managers’, Don Richmond and Paul O’Dea.
Rochester Raiders (Indoor Football League (IFL): 2006-present)
Was formerly part of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (2006), Continental Indoor Football League (2007-08), American Indoor Football Association (2008).
In the Raiders three-year history, thus far, they have already won two league championships in 2007 and 2008, both times against the Port Huron/Michigan Pirates.
In 2008, they finished the regular season undefeated and are owned by former Buffalo Bill and NFL Hall of Famer, Thurman Thomas.
Rochester Brigade (Arena Football League: 2001-2003)
The short-lived, Brigade, was one of 13 expansion teams to the league, but ceased operations in 2003, after the Buffalo Destroyers moved their team to Columbus, Ohio.
Owner, Mark Hamister said he felt no need to continue Arena Football in western New York.
The team finished with a losing career record of, 14-35.
Rochester Jeffersons “Jeffs” (National Football League (NFL): 1908-1925)
Previously part of the Independent League from 1908-1919.
The Jeffs were Rochester’s first and only NFL team.
The first 10-years of the team’s existence was at the amateur level playing other Rochester football teams like the Scalpers and the Oxfords, but by the 1917 season, started to look on to play other teams from outside of upstate N.Y.
In the last five-years of the team’s unsuccessful run in the NFL with an, 8-27-4, record and a failed attempt to recruit Red Grange, who instead signed with the Chicago Bears, the Jeffersons folded.
Rochester Oxfords (New York Professional Football League: 1908-1926)
The Oxfords were one of many of Rochester’s pro football teams, based on a strong sandlot football circuit, but served as a professional team in western New York after the Rochester Scalpers ceased operations in 1920.
Rochester Scalpers (New York Professional Football League: 1908-1920)
For the first decade of their existence, the Scalpers played semi-professional teams, primarily from upstate New York and Ohio. Their biggest threat and competition were rivals, Rochester Royals, whom the team had tough success against.
Empire State Roar (Women’s Football Alliance: 2005-present)
Were part of the Women’s Professional Football League from 2005-2008.
The first year the Roar struggled during the season with a 2-4 record, but only lost by a total of 11-points and have been consistently improving, each year.
In 2006, the team went 5-3 and missed the playoffs by one game.
The 2007 season was the most successful for the Roar as they ended with an 8-1 record, went to the American Conference Northern Championships, only to lose to the Houston Energy.
Rochester Razorsharks “Sharks” (Premiere Basketball League (PBL): 2005-present)
Was formerly part of the American Basketball Association (2005-2007).
The Sharks had much success in their first season as they were ranked No. 1 and won the ABA Championship. In 2005, the team was ranked in the Top 10 minor league teams by probasketballnews.com.
In their next season, the Razorsharks went undefeated and captured their second consecutive championship and made history, setting the record of winning 24 home games in a row, since 1979.
In the 2007-2008 season, they ended, again, as the No. 1 team in league with an 18-2 record and winning their third championship game, defeating the Arkansas Impact.
Jan. 19, 2009 marked the first home game loss to the Sharks in three seasons when they played Vermont.
Rochester Royals (National Basketball Association (NBA): 1945-1957)
Also known as the Rochester Pros (1943-1946) and Rochester Seagrams (1931-1942), and currently the Sacramento Kings since 1985, and formerly part of the National Basketball League (NBL) from 1945-1948 and Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948.
In the Royals first year, they had immediate success winning the NBL championship. A year later, they won their second consecutive championship, ending the 1946-1947 season, 31-13.
In 1948, the team made it to the NBA championship, losing to the Minneapolis Lakers, but still finished with the best record in the league.
By 1951, the Royals beat the New York Knicks in the NBA finals by one game and to date, it is the team’s only NBA championship title.
The team’s 12-year history in Rochester features 12 NBA Hall of Fame members (including an NFL Hall of Famer and Hollywood Walk of Famer): Al Cervi, Bob Davies, Alex Hannum, Les Harrison, Red Holzman, Arnie Risen, Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman, Bobby Wanzer, Otto Graham and Chuck Connors.
Rochester Pros (Independent League: 1943-1946)
Part of the National Basketball League during the 1945-1946 season.
The Pros were one of the top professional teams in the country owned by NBA Hall of Famer, Less Harrison.
Rochester Seagrams (Independent League: 1931-1942)
Formerly part of the District Basketball Association in 1932-1933 and the District Basketball League from 1933-1945.
The Seagrams held basketball star, Al “Digger” Cervi, 92, known as one of the great sandlot basketball players in the country. He was a five-time first-team All-Pro player.
Rochester Zeniths “Zs” (Continental Basketball Association (CBA): 1977-1983)
Part of the All-American Basketball Alliance (AABA) in 1978.
Of the Z’s six-season history, they won four division titles (1978-1979, 1979-1980, 1980-1981, 1982-1983) and two league championships (1978-1979, 1980-1981).
The team’s success amounted to having the winningest record in league history.
In 1978-1981, the team produced the leagues Most Valuable Players and Rookies of the year in Andre McCarter, Glen Hagan, Larry Fogle, Larry Spriggs, Larry McNeil and Lee Johnson.
Rochester Colonels (Eastern Professional League: 1958-1959)
The Colonels lost all eight games they played before folding on December 7, 1958 and decided to erase all game and individual statistics from the official league records, unitl founded by sports historian, Doublas Brei.
The 1995 Ryder Cup, 2003 PGA Championship and U.S. Open (1956 – Winner: Cary Middlecoff, 1968 – Winner: Lee Trevino, 1989 – Winner: Curtis Strange) was held in Rochester at the Oak Hill Country Club.
Every August the Xerox Classic tournament on the Nationwide Tour is held at the Locus Hill Country Club, along with the Wegmans LPGA tournament in June.
Rochester Omnium (USA Cycling: 2004-present)
The Omnium, as part of the USA Cycling association, which has a stop every year in Rochester during its race on the Tour de New York, expanded as a three-day event in 2008.
In 2009, the professional bike racing team, will bike for three more days, extending to a total of six-days on Aug. 8-13.
Rochester Aardvarks (Allegany Rugby Union: 1966-present)
Also known as Rochester Rugby Football Club (1966-2001)
The Aardvarks are one a few Rugby teams in the country to own it’s own field and travel all around the U.S. and Canada, and England, Ireland and the Bahamas to compete.
The team participates in the annual Empire State Games and in 2001, they won their first National Sevens competition.
All throughout the 1970s, the Aardvarks were the best rugby club in the country.
Rochester Colonials (New York State Rugby Conference: 1977-present)
In the team’s 28-year history, the have won many championships, the most recent coming in 2007 with the USA Rugby National All-Star Championship. The Colonials are known for hosting more local and statewide tournaments than any other Rugby team in their league.
Rochester Renegade (New York State Rugby Women’s Division: 1987-present)
The 20-women Renegade roster, uses their size to their advantage against their opponents, but only lay in the middle of the standings since the team was created. In addition to playing other professional teams, they compete (during off-season) against Division I collegiate teams such as Penn State.
Pier 6 Wrestling “P6W” (Independent Professional Wrestling: 2005-present)
P6W is a promotion based wrestling team in Rochester. Their season starts every April since 2005 and participates in Shakedown events, somewhat like the WWE Smackdown.
In 2008, Preston Wyatt Parks and Sik Rik Martix won the P6W Title Tournament Finals and Parks walked away with the Championship.
Next Era Wrestling “NEW” (Premiere Wrestling Federation: 2004-present)
In autumn of 2005, the federation held it first shows and winner, LAX, was crowed as the NEW World Champion.
Since then, superstars in the wrestling industry have been created at NEW in Rochester: Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Honky Tonk Man, Al Snow, Jerry Lynn, Matt Bentley, Koko B. Ware, Too Cool, Heart Throbs, etc. to name a few.
NWA Upstate (National Wrestling Alliance: 1848-present)
NWA is the largest governing wrestling body in the country and located in Rochester.
The most popular wrestler coming out of NWA Upstate is Rochester native, Colin Delaney, who is best known for his wrestling with the WWE.
Roc City Wrestling “RCW” (Executive Wrestling: 2001-2006)
RCW was successful in its five-year history. The team’s major tournament, Samurai Slam 6, was one of the largest in western New York and was sponsored by local media in Rochester.
Rochester Rhythm (American Extreme Paintball League (AXBL): 2006-present)
Also known as the Rochester N’Vasion (2006)
The Rhythm is three-time league Champions and currently ranks second in the league for average points per game next to Rockland (Ill.).
Rochester N’Vasion (American Extreme Paintball League (AXBL): 2006)
In N’Vasion’s first year as a team, they won the league’s Championship games and were ranked No. 1 for the majority of the year.
Posts on skyscrapercity.com, say that Rochester produces the most professional athletes and sport figures from a single city than any other city in the country; some people even argue “in the world” with, more than, 200 athletes who turned professional.
Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report.
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