Another change on the affiliation front: the St. Louis Cardinals and the Peoria Chiefs (Low Class A; Midwest League) have signed a new player-development contract, through 2016.
The Cardinals had been affiliated with the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low Class A; Midwest League); the Chiefs are coming off a long-term relationship with the Chicago Cubs.
“This is a great day for baseball in Peoria and Central Illinois,” said Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen. “We are thrilled to bring the color red back to the ballpark with one of the greatest organizations and fan bases in baseball. We hope that with all the great young talent the Cardinals have produced the last few seasons to bring another MWL Championship to Peoria as they continue to bring World Series trophies to St. Louis.”
“We are extremely pleased to have a new four-year affiliation in place with the Chiefs and the Peoria community,” said Cardinals’ Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. “We know how Peoria and Central Illinois represent a big part of what “Cardinals Nation” is all about and that the Chiefs run a first-class operation that will only enhance our player development efforts.”
“We are excited to be returning to Peoria,” stated Cardinals’ Farm Director John Vuch. “The Midwest League has tremendous tradition and we are pleased to remain part of it.”
The two organizations first linked up in 1995 and a year later the Chiefs were Second Half Division Champions at 79-57 under Roy Silver. The 1998 team also made the playoffs going 72-68 under Jeff Shireman before losing in the playoffs. The 2002 team was hands down the best in Chiefs history with a new stadium to show off as well. The 2002 squad won a franchise-record 85 games under Danny Sheaffer and brought home the first ever Chiefs Championship with a 7-1 playoff record. The 2004 season was the last for the Cardinals in the first go-around in Peoria and also saw a playoff appearance. That squad, led by Joe Cunningham, went 75-64 before losing in the first round as a Wild Card team.
The first tenure for the Cardinals in Peoria brought the likes of Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Dan Haren, Rick Ankiel, Placido Polanco, Coco Crisp, Jason Motte, Chris Duncan, Jack Wilson, Pablo Ozuna and Chris Narveson to the Midwest League. All told 60 players that played in Peoria as a Cardinals affiliate between 1995 and 2004 made it to the Majors.
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