The History of Greenville’s Pastime


Melinda Davidson

Greenville has had many different baseball teams that have played and entertained the people of the Upstate, including its current team The Greenville Drive, which plays in Flour Field (Photo courtesy of Melinda Davidson).

Many different cities are known for their sports teams. Cities such as Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles are associated with the Braves, the Yankees, and the Dodgers. These teams unite the city and give it a unique identity in the midst of creating memories and traditions. However, teams like these are not restricted to larger cities and occur in smaller cities. Greenville has had a number of baseball different teams throughout the years which have inspired a growing interest with its growing population.

“Baseball has impacted the city of Greenville by drawing people to see baseball games which helps the economy.” said junior Zac Jensen.

The earliest sports teams in Greenville were actually mill baseball teams which formed in the 1870s and 1880s. The players were semi-professional, which means they played baseball as amateurs and not as a full-time job. These mill teams later combined to form the Greenville and Spartanburg Mill League. From these mill leagues, a baseball team called the Greenville Spinners was formed. They were founded in 1907 and the team had only eight players and was run by manager Tommy Stouch, who also played second base for the team. Famous baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson played for the Spinners in 1908 before being signed by Connie Mack to play for the Philly Athletics. The Spinners dissolved in 1912 only to be reassembled in 1919 until being closed during the Great Depression in 1931. The Spinners were a successful, competitive team, always in contention for the South Atlantic League Championship Pendant. After the Great Depression, the Spinners reformed in 1946 and in 1954 joined the Tri-State League. However, in 1962, the Spinners collapsed for good.

It didn’t take long for Greenville to replace the team because in 1963, a single A baseball team moved down from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This team became known as the Greenville Braves and they played in the Western Carolinas League. Although in 1965, the team changed to the Greenville Mets. The team also only lasted two years with this name. The name changed again in 1967 to the Greenville Red Sox, which it stayed for more than a couple years. The team was decent averaging around a 0.5 win-loss record. Then the team changed its name one last time in 1972 to the Greenville Rangers, which stuck until its termination. For twelve years, Greenville was devoid of a baseball team aside from the occasional mill team, but that changed in 1984. Greenville attracted a double A team called the Greenville Braves which was affiliated with the Atlanta Braves. The new team played in the Greenville Municipal Stadium, which is where the Brashier baseball team currently plays.

“I am playing in the cleatstrides of greatness,” said a Brashier baseball player, when asked how he felt when playing at the old Greenville Braves Stadium.

The Greenville Braves were unlike any other Greenville team before them because they were winners. The 1992 team had a 0.699 win-loss record and the team outscored the opponents by 258 runs. The team won the league title with league MVPs Javy Lopez and Chipper Jones, who were later inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. The team was also the only Double-A team to attract more than 200,000 fans per year for 17 straight years. Sadly, the glory days could not last forever, and the team moved away after the city refused to build them a new stadium in 2004. The city then brought in the Capital City Bombers from Columbia who were called the Greenville Bombers. The team was a single A team affiliated with the Boston Red Socks. A year later, Greenville Bombers changed to Greenville Drive. The Drive is still in Greenville today and currently plays at Flour Field in Downtown Greenville.

“I think the Drive is something for Greenville people to rally around and be proud of because it’s one team uniting all of the people in Greenville. It’s a team in Greenville can unite and cheer for, especially baseball fans,” said sophomore Abby McDonald.

As the city of Greenville continues to expand, the baseball team will continue to be a rallying point for the city. The past of baseball can live on in memories and traditions while new memories are made.