After being rejected as one of the 120 MiLB teams, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes ownership is launching a four-team independent league at Volcanoes Stadium and reviving the Portland Mavericks name.
The Mavericks Independent Baseball League will feature non-drafted and released players who hope to someday reach the Major Leagues. Besides the Volcanoes, the four-team league will feature Campesinos de Salem-Keizer, created as part of MiLB’s Copa de la Diversión promotion. Joining the two Salem-Keizer teams: the return of the Portland Mavericks, a notorious and iconic team from the 1970s, and the return of the Salem Senators, which originally began play in 1940.
“We have an unique opportunity to bring baseball back the way it used to be,” said Volcanoes CEO Mickey Walker in a press statement. “Kind of like the old glory barnstorming days of baseball–except rather than traveling around the country, all the games will be played at Volcanoes Stadium. Many fans remember the Portland Mavericks with great fondness–this league will have that type of popularity. We’ll have open tryouts and select the best players from across the country. This will also provide a place for local athletes to aspire to play someday.”
The Mavericks Independent Baseball League will begin play on Thursday, May 13, when the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will be challenged by the Portland Mavericks. Games will be played every Thursday (6:35 p.m.), Friday (6:35 p.m.), Saturday (1:05 p.m. and 6:35 p.m.) and Sunday (1:05 p.m. and 6:35 p.m.) for 16 consecutive weeks, concluding Sunday, August 29, with playoffs to follow.
“We’re even bringing back afternoon baseball,” Walker added. “This will allow even more fans to enjoy the fun.”
The Portland Mavericks were an independent team in the Northwest League of Professional Baseball from 1973 to 1977. Owned by television actor Bing Russell and father of Hollywood actor, Kurt Russell, the Mavericks played outlaw baseball before the term became popular. Kurt Russell played for the Mavericks in their inaugural season in 1973, and Bing Russell eschewed the development angle of the short season Northwest League and signed stars, such as former major league pitcher Jim Bouton, as well as castoffs from other professional teams. The Mavericks hired the first professional female baseball General Manager, Lanny Moss, and the first Asian-American General Manager. The team ceased operations when the Pacific Coast League claimed the territory in 1978. For more information, we’d recommend the highly entertaining documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, on Netflix.
The Salem Senators launched in 1940 and played out of Waters Field, previously located at 25th Street, and a block north of Mission, was the home of the Salem Senators. The new 5,000-seat stadium was built by George Waters, who relocated the Class B Bellingham Chinooks. A record crowd of 4,865 showed up for the first game, the largest crowd ever to attend a sporting event in Salem at that time. The team went thru many levels of professional baseball – Class A, Class B, Northwest League, Western International League, and in 1961 was renamed the Dodgers after becoming a farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That original incarnation of the Senators featured future Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Bobby Cox and Mike Piazza, in addition to Jim Lefebrve and Mel Krause. After Waters Field burned down in November 1966, the Senators returned to the Class A Northwest League in 1977 and signed an affiliation deal with the California Angels in 1981. Joe Maddon was manager of the 1982 Salem Angels, with notable players included future major leaguers Mark McLemore, Kirk McCaskill, Bob Kipper, Jack Howell, Ray Chadwick, Dante Bichette, Doug Jennings, Erik Pappas, and Chuck Finley.
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