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Whitecaps Chronology

Whitecaps Chronology
Year Fact
1980 Columnist Corky Meinecke poses question in Grand Rapids Press of why can't Grand Rapids support minor league baseball like Evansville, Indiana (the AAA Detroit Tigers affiliate at that time). Lew Chamberlin likes the idea, and it sticks in his mind.
1984 Lew Chamberlin and Denny Baxter begin independently pursuing a baseball franchise to bring to West Michigan.
1986 News reports link Baxter to efforts to bring a team to Lamar Park in Wyoming. Initially discouraged, Chamberlin gives Baxter a call and they hit it off well after two phone calls and a meeting.
1987 West Michigan Baseball Development, Inc. is formed.
1988-89 Negotiations with the city of Wyoming on a $5 million, 12,000 seat stadium adjacent to Lamar Park begin.
Nov. '89 Chamberlin and Baxter purchase Wasau Timbers of the Midwest League as part of Wisconsin Baseball Partnership with about 5 people from Chicago. Lew leaves his job at Alro Steel and devotes himself full-time to West Michigan Baseball.
1991 Timbers move to Geneva, Illinois to become the Kane County Cougars. Cougars begin play in a new 3,600 seat stadium that had been built to attract a franchise.
1991-93 Cougars become one of the top organizations in baseball.
Fall - '92 West Michigan Baseball Development, Inc. begins negotiations with the Madison Muskies of the Midwest League.
February '93 Announcement made that Muskies will move to West Michigan in 1994. Construction begins on a privately financed, 5,700 seat stadium in Comstock Park, MI. Naming rights were sold to Old Kent Bank and the ballpark was named Old Kent Park.
12-Apr-94 West Michigan Whitecaps play their first home game, defeating the Burlington Bees, 5-2.
1-Sep-94 Whitecaps break the all-time Class A attendance record of 463,039 set in 1949 by the Denver Bears. West Michigan fans total 475,212 by the regular season's end the following day.
2-Sep-94 Whitecaps qualify for Midwest League playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
Sep-95 Whitecaps again break Class A attendance record, drawing 507,989 fans to Old Kent Park.
Sep-96 For the third straight season, the Whitecaps break the Class A attendance record, drawing 547,401 fans to Old Kent Park.
Sep-96 The Whitecaps win the Midwest League Championship, defeating the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3-1 in the best of 5 league finals.
20-Apr-97 Whitecaps pitcher Dave Borkowski throws the first no-hitter in team history, a 6-0 victory at Kane County.
Sep-97 The Whitecaps finish the 1997 season with a 92-39 record, the best winning percentage in all of professional baseball, but are eliminated in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs. The Whitecaps are named Baseball America's Minor League Team of the Year.
18-Sep-98 The Whitecaps win their second Midwest League Championship, defeating the Rockford Cubbies 5-3 in Game 4 of the best-of-5 league finals.
17-Apr-99 Sean Buller and Luis Pineda combine to throw a 7-inning no-hitter, the second no-no in Whitecaps history, in the second game of a doubleheader at South Bend. The Whitecaps won the game 2-0.
17-May-99 The Detroit Tigers make their first appearance in West Michigan in 53 years, playing an exhibition game against the Class A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps at Old Kent Park. The Tigers won, 5-2, in front of the largest Whitecaps crowd ever (11,006 fans).
Sep-99 The Whitecaps fail to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Dec-99 Baseball America bestows some of its highest honors on the Whitecaps, naming it the Class A Organization of the Decade. In addition, the 1997 Whitecaps were named the Third-Best Minor League Team of the Decade, and General Manager Scott Lane was named General Manager of the Decade.
10-Jun-00 Whitecaps pitcher Tommy Marx throws the third no-hitter in team history (and first at Old Kent Park), an 8-0 victory vs. Kane County.
13-Jun-00 Whitecaps pitcher Calvin Chipperfield throws the fourth no-hitter in team history (and second in a four-day span!), a 2-0 seven-inning victory vs. Kane County.
15-Nov-00 Detroit names local major league star Brent Gates as the Whitecaps' next manager, replacing Bruce Fields. Gates is the fourth manager in franchise history.
11-Oct-01 Detroit names Phil Regan, former major league player and manager and 2000 Olympic baseball coach, as the Whitecaps' fifth manager. Regan is the second straight local star to be named Whitecaps manager.
18-Oct-01 Fifth Third Bank acquires naming rights to Old Kent Park as part of their purchase of Old Kent Bank. The stadium's name is changed to Fifth Third Ballpark.
Sep-02 Regan leads the Whitecaps to a strong 83-57 finish before being upset in the second round of the playoffs.
20-Nov-02 The Whitecaps gear up for their 10th anniversary by introducing a new collection of logos and new team uniforms.
Apr-03 More stadium expansion as the Whitecaps added a second private party deck - behind the left field wall.
17-Jun-03 The Whitecaps hosted the Midwest League All-Star Game for the second time in franchise history. The Eastern Division defeated the Western Division by a 5-4 score, on a bottom-of-the-ninth RBI by Lansing's†Keith Butler†in front of 10,037 fans.
1-Sep-03 Team Manager Phil Regan managed the final game of his stellar baseball career, which spanned college ball, the major and minor leagues as a player, coach and manager.
19-Sep-04 The Whitecaps win their third Midwest League Championship, defeating the Kane County Cougars 4-2 at home in Game 5 of an exciting best-of-five league finals under first-year manager†Matt Walbeck.
19-Jun-05 Josh Lee hits for the cycle against the South Bend Silver Hawks. He becomes the first Whitecap in team history to hit for the cycle.
Oct-05 The Whitecaps break ground on the Pepsi Stadium Club and Miller Lite House Deck, which replaced the bleachers in right-centerfield. The project also included adding outdoor seating to the suites and the project cost was approximately $1.4 million.
22-Jun-06 Whitecaps centerfielder and Detroit Tigers number one draft pick from 2005†Cameron Maybin†is selected to play in the Futures Game as part of the Major League Baseball All -Star weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
25-Jul-06 Mike Hernandez†hits his second cycle of the season, breaking the team record set in 2005. Hernandez accomplished the feat in a 10-0 win over the Peoria Chiefs and hit his first cycle June 8 at Fort Wayne.
24-Aug-06 Four Whitecaps named to the Midwest League Post-Season All Star Team: Cameron Maybin, Mike Hollimon, Orlando Perdomo and Matt Walbeck. Maybin was also named Prospect of the Year for the league.
15-Sep-06 The Whitecaps capture their fourth Midwest League Championship in the team's 13-year history. The 'Caps downed the Kane County Cougars 8-4 in the final game and took the best-of-five series 3-1 to win the title. The 'Caps ended the season with 96 wins counting the playoffs, which is the most in team history.
19-Sep-06 Whitecaps centerfielder Cameron Maybin was named the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year and pitcher Burke Badenhop was named the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
27-Sep-06 Whitecaps Manager Matt Walbeck named Low Class A Manager of the Year by†Baseball America. Cameron Maybin named to†Baseball America's†Low Class A All Star Team.
5-Oct-06 Vice President of Whitecaps Professional Baseball Jim Jarecki named the Midwest League Executive of the Year.
6-Nov-06 Former Detroit Tigers third baseman Tom Brookens is named Whitecaps Manager. Brookens becomes the seventh manager in Whitecaps history, taking over for Matt Walbeck who was promoted to Double-A Erie. Walbeck finishes his three-year stint as Whitecaps manager with 231 wins, currently second in franchise history.
5-Jun-07 A franchise record eight Whitecaps are selected to the Midwest League All-Star game in Geneva, Illinois, on June 19, 2007. The players selected are catcher James Skelton, outfielders†Gorkys Hernandez†and Deik Scram, first baseman Ryan Strieby and pitchers Chris Cody,†Duane Below, Brett Jensen and Jeff Gerbe. Scram is named the game's "Star of Stars" Award with a hit, stolen base and two runs scored.
15-Jun-07 Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers makes a Major League Rehab Assignment with the Whitecaps as he pitches against Dayton at Fifth Third Ballpark. The sellout crowd of 10,537 watches Rogers throw five innings with three runs (one earned) allowed.
21-Jun-07 Whitecaps center fielder Gorkys Hernandez is selected to play in the Futures Game as part of the Major League Baseball All-Star weekend in San Francisco, California.
17-Jul-07 The Whitecaps reach a franchise milestone by ushering in their sixth millionth fan. Dorothy Metzler of Grand Haven enters Fifth Third Ballpark and is quickly escorted to the field for a pre-game ceremony where she is showered with gifts for being the Whitecaps milestone fan.
28-Aug-07 Three Whitecaps receive post-season honors from the Midwest League as Tom Brookens wins Manager of the Year, Gorkys Hernandez is named MVP of the Midwest League and James Skelton is selected to the post-season All-Star roster as a catcher.
15-Sep-07 With an 11-5 victory over the Beloit Snappers at Pohlman Field in a decisive game five, the Whitecaps claim back-to-back Midwest League Championships. After sweeping Lansing and South Bend in the first two rounds, the Whitecaps defeat the Snappers in the best-of-five MWL finals 3-2 for their fifth Championshp in team history.
16-Sep-07 Whitecaps LHP Duane Below wins the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.†Below posted a 13-5 record with 2.97 ERA in 26 starts and also won two playoff starts for West Michigan.
16-Nov-07 Joe DePastino is named Whitecaps Manager following Tom Brookens' promotion to Double-A Erie. DePastino is the eighth manager in Whitecaps history.
18-Apr-08 Detroit Tigers center fielder†Curtis Granderson†leads off for the Whitecaps against the Burlington Bees in front of 10,056 fans at Fifth Third Ballpark. Granderson hits an infield single in his first at-bat and finishes 2-for-4 with a triple. Granderson ends up playing two more games with the 'Caps on April 21 and 22, hitting .364 (4-for-11) with two triples in the three games.
14-Jul-08 West Michigan fans welcome their second Major League rehab of the year to Fifth Third Ballpark as Tigers slugger†Magglio Ordonez†dons a Whitecaps jersey. Ordonez goes 1-for-4 with a run scored in front of a sellout crowd of 10,592 as the Whitecaps roll over Peoria 10-2.
3-Sep-08 The Whitecaps and the Detroit Tigers announce a four-year extension to their Player Development Contract, continuing their partnership through the 2014 season.
12-Sep-08 Whitecaps LHP Jon Kibler is named the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Kibler is the third straight Whitecaps pitcher to capture the award after posting a 14-5 record and 1.75 ERA (second-best ERA in all Minor Leagues). Kibler along with RHP†Alfredo Figaro†are also named to the Midwest League Post-Season All-Star team.
21-Oct-08 Fifth Third Ballpark receives a facelift as renovation plans are announced for the offseason. All of the box seats were replaced and padded seats were added to the sections behind home plate. New backstop netting was added for better visibility. The field was also renovated with a new playing surface and drainage system other upgrades included new cash registers, a new roof and repaving of the parking lot.
23-Mar-09 The Fifth Third Burger became an overnight sensation when it was featured on CNBC personality Darren Rovell's blog. The blog post caught the attention of ESPN SportsCenter anchors Steve Levy and John Andersen. They mentioned the burger on the show and the burger's popularity soared. It was featured in hundreds of newspapers, magazines and TV shows around the world.
16-May-09 Whitecaps fans were treated to their fourth major league rehab start in three years as Jeremy Bonderman came to town while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. A crowd of 10,023 saw Bonderman and the Whitecaps take on the Great Lakes Loons. Bonderman gave up six hits and two earned runs while striking out four over seven innings as the Whitecaps won 13-6.
5-Jun-09 Six Whitecaps are named to the Midwest League Eastern Division All-Star team. First baseman Ronnie Bourquin was elected to start in the game. He was joined on the team by second baseman Brandon Douglas and pitchers Casey Crosby, Jared Gayhart,†Mauricio Robles†and Tyler Stohr.
5-Jul-09 The Whitecaps defeated the Dayton Dragons 20-11 in a record setting game. The Whitecaps tied the team record for runs in a game and broke the records for runs in an inning (13) and combined runs (31). The Dragons hit four home runs which tied a record for home runs by a West Michigan opponent. Three of those home runs were hit by†Byron Wiley†who became the first player to hit three home runs at Fifth Third Ballpark. Also, Whitecaps outfielder†Ben Guez†tied the record for doubles in a game (3) and†Alden Carrithers†tied the mark for runs scored (4).
15-Jul-09 The host of the Travel Channel's Man V. Food, Adam Richman,†visited the ballpark to tape an episode of this show. He mingled with fans and took on the world-famous Fifth Third Burger.
16-Jun-10 Fifth Third Ballpark welcomed it's 7,000,000 fan Lauren! Lauren received numerous prizes and a presentation on the field.
11-Aug-11 Extended Player Development Contract with the Detroit Tigers another 4 years through 2018.
2011-2012 Off Season New 54.5'x27' videoboard and manual scoreboard installed.
19-Jun-12 Dean Green,†Steven Moya,†Eugenio Suarez,†Tommy Collier†and†Michael Torrealba†appear in the Midwest League All-Star Game in Kane County
31-Aug-12 Avisail Garcia†is called up to the Tigers and becomes the 100th Whitecap to make it to the Major Leagues.
2-Oct-12 Former Tiger and Major League Manager†Larry Parrish†is named manager of the Whitecaps for the 2013 season.
4-Oct-12 Shortstop†Eugenio Suarez wins Rawlings Gold Glove Award. He beat out all other Minor League shortstops with a .971 fielding percentage. He is the first Whitecap to win the award.
Winter 2013 Fifth Third Ballpark is once again updated to add 4Topps premium tables, a Super Suite and more premium padded box seats.
4-Apr-13 The Whitecaps began their 20th season of baseball.
3-May-13 The Whitecaps welcomed their 8 millionth fan through the gates.
Sep-13 The Whitecaps were nominated for the MWL John H. Johnson President's Award.†This award honors a "complete" baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability, and significant contributions to its community, league, and the baseball industry.
3-Jan-14 A devastating fire destroys the entire first base side of Fifth Third Ballpark. With only 3 months to opening day, the rebuild process begins!
14-Jan-14 Andrew Graham is named 11th manager in Whitecaps history, becoming the first former Whitecap to be manager.
8-Apr-14 Home Opener only 95 days after the fire.
5-May-14 The Whitecaps beat the Lake County Captains 4-3 in 18 innings, marking the longest game in terms of innings played in franchise history.
15-Jun-14 The Whitecaps clinch the first-half Eastern Division title with a thrilling 4-1 victory in South Bend, becoming the first Whitecaps team to make the playoffs since 2009.
17-Jun-14 Whitecaps host the 50th Midwest League All-Star Game at Fifth Third Ballpark, 164 days after the fire. Seven players are chosen to represent the Whitecaps, including pitchers†Jonathon Crawford,†Buck Farmer,†Chad Green,†Austin Kubitza†and†Joe Mantiply, infielder†Javier Betancourt, and outfielder†Wynton Bernard.
13-Aug-14 Pitcher Buck Farmer makes his Major League debut with the Tigers less than three weeks after his final game with the Whitecaps, becoming the fastest player to go from West Michigan to the Majors.
24-Aug-14 Outfielder Wynton Bernard records his 159th hit, breaking the franchise record for hits in a single season, formally held by Robert Fink and Nick Castellanos. He would finish the season with a total of 164 hits.
Aug-14 RHP Buck Farmer, LHP†Kevin Ziomek, and outfielder Wynton Bernard are selected as Post Season All-Stars. Bernard is named League MVP, leading the Midwest League in batting average and hits, and finishing in the top three in runs scored and stolen bases.
Sep-14 Whitecaps Vice President of Sales†Steve McCarthy has been named the 2014 Midwest League Executive of the Year. The Midwest League Executive of the Year is nominated and selected by the league's member clubs. The award is presented to an individual who has had a successful season in the areas of leadership, attendance accomplishments, marketing initiatives, promotions, stadium projects/enhancements, game day and non-game day events, community/charity involvement and overall baseball operations.
Sep-14 The League announced that the Whitecaps have been named the Midwest League's nominee for Minor League Baseball's top award, the John H. Johnson President's Award. This is the second straight year that the Midwest League has nominated the Whitecaps for this top award, which honors a "complete" baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability and significant contributions to its community, league and the baseball industry.
Nov-14 The Whitecaps break ground on a new office building along the first base side of Fifth Third Ballpark. The building will also feature a new deck area scheduled to be completed for the 2015 season.
Dec-14 Baseball America has named the Whitecaps as the Class A recipient of the 2014 Bob Frietas Award,†which is presented to the organization with the best overall operations.
Dec-14 The team earned a Minor League Baseball Presidential Citation,†a special award presented by MiLB President and CEO to recognize exemplary service on behalf of Minor League Baseball. The award was presented to the Whitecaps for the endurance and effort the team and community put forth to recover from the January 3 fire and get the ballpark rebuilt in time for the season opener.
Apr-15 Whitecaps new administration front office building is open for business as the staff returns on-site for the first time since the Jan 3, 2014 fire. Located along the first base side of the ballpark, the building hosts the entire front office staff and the Budweiser Bow Tie Deck. Also, the opening of the Founders Brewing Craft Clubhouse where the old souvenir shop used to call home. Craft Clubhouse is home to 16 selected local craft beers and promotes the craft beer industry that makes Grand Rapids Beer City USA.
23-Jun-15 OF Michael Gerber, 3rd Baseman†Zac Shepherd, RHP†Spencer Turnbull, and Relief Pitcher†Joe Jimenez†selected to represent the Whitecaps at the 51st MWL All-Star Game in Peoria, IL.
12-Jul-15 Relief Pitcher Joe Jimenez selected to the World Team and pitches 2/3 of an inning in Cincinnati during the Futures Game which is played the Sunday prior to the MLB All-Star Game.
24-Aug-15 OF Michael Gerber named to the MWL Post Season All-Star team.
27-Aug-15 Whitecaps clinch the 2nd half wild card playoff spot to reach the playoffs for the sixteenth time in 22 seasons.
21-Sep-15 Whitecaps clinch the sixth MWL Championship by defeating the Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-2) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Joe Jimenez struck out the side in the 9th inning. Whitecaps winning run was scored by†Francisco Contreras†on a wild pitch.
9-Apr-16 Whitecaps Home Opener vs. South Bend after receiving 5 inches of snow the night before; staff cleared the snow off the field for the game.
21-Jun-16 Will Maddox,†David Gonzalez,†Matt Hall,†Kyle Dowdy†and†Gerson Moreno†prepresent the Whitecaps in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Andrew Graham manages the Eastern squad for the game in Cedar Rapids, IA. This is Graham's second time managing the Eastern team in three seasons.
22-Jul-16 Whitecaps and Peoria Chiefs play to a 9-9 14-inning tie when MWL curfew takes effect. The teams do not resume as it was a get-away day and they did not play again in 2016.
29-Aug-16 Will Maddox becomes the Whitecaps All-Time hits leader with 167.†Maddox broke Wynton Bernard's mark that was set two seasons earlier.
20-Oct-16 Mike Rabelo is named the Whitecaps 12th Manager. Rabelo was a catcher for the Whitecaps who played in 2002 and 2003.
10-Nov-16 Whitecaps announce plans to expand the playground and create a new hospitality area down the 3rd base line lower lawn area.†This area will be the ninth private area to provide for exclusive group outings.
7-Jun-17 Seven Whitecaps play in MWL All-Star game.††Blaise Salter, Jacob Robson,†Josh Lester,†Austin Sodders,†Gregory Soto,†Jason Foley†and†Danny Woodrow†all represented the Whitecaps at the 2017 All-Star game in Midland.
15-Jun-17 The Whitcaps secured a playoff spot†by clinching the Eastern Divison in first-half of the season. It's the Whitecaps 4th consecutuve season in the playoffs and 18th overall appearance.
11-Aug-17 The Whitecaps pitched a†Midwest League record 24th shutout†in a 6-0 win over Great Lakes. The team would go on throw four more making the team and league record 28 shutouts for a season.
18-Aug-17 Mike Rabelo is named the†Midwest League's Manager of the Year and Gregory Soto is named left-handed starter on the Midwest League post-season All-Star team.†
4-Sep-17 The Whitecaps beat the Ft. Wayne TinCaps 4-1 to complete the regular season with a record of 91-45. The 91 victories are the second most in franchise history behind the 1997 team.
7-Nov-17 Former Detroit Tigers catcher Lance Parrish is named manager. Parrish, known as Big Wheel, becomes the 13th manager in the Whitecaps storied history.
6-June-18 Cole Peterson and Brandyn Sittinger are named to the Midwest League All-Star Team..
8-June-18 5 year old Ava Craft was welcomed in as our 10,000,000th fan in Whitecaps history.
9-June-18 The Whitecaps announced that for the first time in our history we'll be officaly be changing the team name. The name change will be in effect for one game on August 4, 2018. The team will be known as the Beer City Bung Hammers!