Can The Curse End In Memphis?

Ryne E. HancockCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

If you know your Memphis baseball history, which I’m sure that number is quite a few, you will know that since professional baseball came to the Bluff City in 1877, there’s been a total of 13 league championships in baseball.

The original Memphis entry from the Southern League won the first title in 1894, followed by the original Chicks, who won titles in 1903, 1904, 1921, 1924, 1930, 1933, 1952, 1953, and 1955.

Fourteen years later, the Blues won the 1969 Texas League championship and four years later, the Blues added a second title, the last for seventeen seasons in Memphis.

When the modern-day Chicks came in 1978, the franchise in its 12th season won the 1990 Southern League championship, the only one for the modern-day Chicks.

In turn, the Redbirds, in the inagural season of Autozone Park, would win the 2000 PCL championship, on the strength of a home run by a guy named Albert Pujols.

To this day, that is the last time the Redbirds have played in mid-September.


When I served as an assistant hitting instructor to Skip Schumacher, who ironically is on my fantasy team, during the 2006 Kids’ Camp at Autozone Park, there was a wall in the area where the batting cages are located that listed all of the city’s baseball championships.

Safe to say, Memphis has one more than Nashville, who has 12 overall in their baseball history.

When the team painted the 2000  on the 13th pennant for the title they won, the Redbirds made the mistake of painting an empty one, something for the 14th baseball title in the city’s history.

Little did anyone know that for 9 seasons, the Redbirds would be plagued by a curse that has apparently haunted the team for a decade.

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, the Redbirds have sent players like Schumacher, Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel, Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, and countless others north on Interstate 55.

While the bulk of those teams here in Memphis had a role in the 2006 World Series championship, none of them played on a pennant winner here in Memphis.

In 2005, the Redbirds, along with Omaha and Nashville, found themselves in a three-way chase for the playoffs.

For a time being, the Redbirds looked as if they would take advantage of the losing by Nashville, which had a losing streak of eight in a row at one point.

Then it happened.

Hurricane Katrina ironically happened during the same time the Redbirds, Sounds, and Royals were playing for a chance to go to the playoffs and with that, games were canceled here in Memphis due to the playing surface.

When that happened, the momentum that the Redbirds had went with the hurricane and the Sounds managed to squeak in and win the division and later on the PCL title.

The following year, the story on the field was the horrendous start by the Redbirds, which was ranked as one of the worst in Memphis baseball history, who by April 16th of that year had a record of 2-11.

The only thing that was notable about that season was the fact that a book, written by yours truly, came out of the fun we had in the ballpark and a pursuit of a chocolate cutie.

Fast forward to now, where after the Redbirds won last night over the Omaha Royals, the Nashville Sounds lost to the Isotopes and in turn, gave the Redbirds first place in the American Northern Division by a half game.

Should the Redbirds beat Omaha tonight for their sixth straight victory and the Nashville Sounds lose today against the Isotopes, that half-game lead could increase into a full game.

And if the winning keeps up, well you know the rest, baseball will be played in September for the first time since 2000 here in Memphis.

That is, if the curse doesn’t rear its ugly head.