Northwoods League president Dick Radatz Jr. said Thursday his tentative plan is for Brainerd to rejoin the league, along with an expansion franchise, in 2004.
"Obviously, there are no guarantees Brainerd will be back," Radatz said from his office in Rochester. "It will rely on our ability to find a 12th team. We will not bring Brainerd back as an 11th team. Our intention is to find a 12th team.
"I think Brainerd is an important part of the Northwoods League concoction. Brainerd is good for travel. I think it's a workable concept up there. It just needs to be done a little different."
The Mighty Gulls are the third Brainerd baseball team to fold since 1994.
The Brainerd Bears, of the old North Central League, folded in 1995 after 1 1/2 financially troubled seasons. The Bobcats, of the defunct Prairie League, met a similar fate just 20 days into their only season in 1996.
The Mighty Gulls began play in the Northwoods League in 1998, going 21-43, the worst record in franchise history, and averaged only 287 fans.
The 2002 season was the Mighty Gulls' most successful, on the field and at the gate. They compiled a 39-25 regular-season record, won their first North Division playoff title and averaged a franchise-record 879 fans. They advanced to the league championship series for the first time, losing in two games to Waterloo.
The North Central and Prairie leagues were minor league teams independent of major-league affiliation.
The Northwoods League is composed of college players, who must have NCAA eligibility remaining in order to participate. Players are not paid, preserving their NCAA eligibility.
The Northwoods provides players an opportunity to play under the same conditions as the minor leagues, using wooden bats, major league baseballs and making road trips.
CAPTION:With smiles all around, the Mighty Gulls, on the field, had a successful season in 2002. (Dispatch File Photo)
HEAD:Brainerd Mighty Gulls chronology
Oct. 6 -- Brainerd City Council approves 5-year lease for franchise
Dec. 15 -- Hire Terry Cole as first general manager
Jan. 11 -- Announce hiring of Ken Jacome, University of Arizona volunteer assistant, as first field manager, Jacome resigns May 28 to become head coach of a community college in El Paso, Texas.
Jan. 22 -- Select Mighty Gulls as nickname; hire Paul Habstritt as assistant general manager
Feb. 2 -- Unveil logo at Holiday Inn
Feb. 10 -- Sign first player, Josh Smith of Brainerd and Minnesota State/Mankato
Aug. 9 -- Finish first season 21-43, average league-low 287 fans, miss playoffs, Jon Ramsey of Penn State first field manager
Aug. 8 -- Last game of regular season canceled by Mills Field vandalism, finish 35-28, second overall in North Division, qualify for playoffs, average 351 fans, second fewest in league
Eric Coleman of San Jose City College is field manager
Marty Reinertson is general manager
Aug. 9 -- Lose first playoff game 7-0 at St. Cloud
Aug. 10 -- Win playoff game 17-11 over St. Cloud at Mills Field
Aug. 11 -- Lose playoff series 8-7 in 12 innings at St. Cloud
General manager -- Chuck Carstensen
Sales and promotions manager -- John Brabbitt
Field manager -- Eric Coleman
Coaches -- Matt Markovich, Sonoma State; Kyle Crookes, Northwestern Louisiana
Aug. 8 -- Finish regular season 28-32, second in North Division, for second straight year last game, this time at Grand Forks, is canceled by field vandalism
-- Average 442 fans in regular season
Aug. 9 -- Beat St. Cloud 6-2 in opening playoff game at St. Cloud
Aug. 10 -- Lose 5-3 to St. Cloud in playoff game at Mills Field
Aug. 11 -- Lose 8-1 at St. Cloud in playoff finale
Field manager -- Dave Parra, Neosho County Community College, Chanute, Kan.
July 2 -- Win first North Division first-half championship with 6-1 win over Rochester
Finish regular season 25-37
Aug. 8 -- Lose 4-3 to St. Cloud in playoff game at St. Cloud
Aug. 9 -- Lose 7-2 to St. Cloud in playoff finale at Mills Field
Average 456 fans
Owner Perry Platisha takes over front office duties
Field manager -- Kyle Crookes
July 9 -- Win second North Division first-half championship despite 10-3 loss to Rochester
Aug. 10 -- Win second-half division title for first time in franchise history
Aug. 13 -- Finish regular season 39-25, best record in league, win both halves of North Division
Average franchise-record 879 fans
Defeat St. Cloud 2-0 in division playoff series to win first division playoff championship
Lose to Waterloo 2-0 in league championship series
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