Championships and Bench-clearing Brawls A Brief History of Flint Baseball (1889-1951)

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Before Flint United, Flint City Bucks, the Firebirds and even the Generals, baseball ruled the day in the city. Playing all games at Atwood Stadium, the first minor league team to play in Flint was the Flint Flyers, playing one season (1889-90). Next, the Flint Vehicles took the field and were a mainstay for 20-years, playing competitive ball from 1906-26. Baseball took a small hiatus from the city during the Great Depression but roared back in 1940, when the Cleveland Indian-affiliated Flint Gems won the Michigan State League Pennant with a record of 67-41. The team became the Flint Arrows for the 1941 season and once again won the league championship, finishing 70-38. Playoffs were canceled due to the impending world war.

Once the war was won, the U.S. dove headfirst into the national pastime and when the Flint Arrows took the field in 1948, Atwood Stadium was filled to capacity. Then affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, the team was led to yet another pennant by Manager, Jack Tighe. The next year was a raucous one for the Arrows, when during a big game against Grand Rapids, Arrows’ star catcher, Frank House, took exception with the antics of the Grand Rapids players and started a bench-clearing brawl. For his part in the altercation, House was suspended indefinitely from the minor league but would go on to play MLB for Detroit, Kansas City and the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1950, under Manager, Gene Desautels, the Arrows would once again win the league championship. It would be their last. After the season, the team lost its Detroit-affiliation and its talent, making 1951 a dismal year. The team finished 38-98.

Attendance dropped significantly, culminating in one game played with just two spectators. The Arrows ended operations after the year, ending minor league ball in the city.

Notable Flint Arrows Major Leaguers: Frank House, Red Embree (Cleveland, New York, St. Louis), Cliff Mapes (New York, St. Louis), Dick Marlowe (Detroit, Chicago), Bubba Phillips (Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland) and MLB All Stars Steve Gromek (Cleveland, Detroit) and Gene Woodling (Cleveland, New York, Etc.).

 

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