Alamance Indians

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The Alamance Indians of Burlington, North Carolina was a team that existed in the Carolina League from 1958-1964. In those seven seasons, they served as a mid-level affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Alamance joined the Class B Carolina League in 1958, playing alongside clubs like the Durham Bulls, Wilson Tobs, and High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms. After the 1962 season, in the aftermath of the Upheaval, the Carolina League was re-classified as Class A. In 1960, about halfway through Alamance’s run, the team purchased an actual physical stadium in Danville, Virginia. They had it dismantled and shipped to Burlington, where it stands to this day as Burlington Athletic Stadium.

Burlington Daily Times News July 13, 1961

There is some conflicting information about what the team was called. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball lists the team as the “Burlington Indians,” not to be confused with the Burlington (Iowa) Indians, a team that played in the Central Association in the 1930s or the Appalachian League franchise that played in Burlington Athletic Stadium from 1986-2006. Baseball Reference likely used the Encyclopedia, and call the team the Burlington Indians as well. Other resources (like Wikipedia) draw from either Baseball Reference or the Encyclopedia. However, newspaper clippings from that time uniformly call the team the Alamance Indians, a regional place name that encompassed Alamance County, North Carolina. The smoking gun is the physical ephemera from this era, all of which specify Alamance. Either way, this is plenty enough to make the Alamance Indians one of the weirdest teams I’ve come across in the annals of the minors.

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Images of the team indicate that the the players wore uniforms that were very similar to Cleveland’s, and were likely supplied by the parent club as was common in those days. The notorious Chief Wahoo appeared as a sleeve patch. The caps were the most notable individual element, with an A for Alamance front and center. At first, the A was a serifed old English-style letter, similar to the font Oakland uses today. A new basic block letter A took its place and was used through most of the team’s time.

The two biggest-name players to have suited up for Alamance are Luis Tiant and Tommie Agee. Other future All-Stars from these teams include Sonny Siebert, Steve Hargan, and Richie Scheinblum. Gene Conley, a staple of the 1950s Milwaukee Braves juggernaut, had his last gasp as a player in Burlington.

The last gasp for the Alamance Indians’ identity came in 1964, when the affiliation with Cleveland came to its end. The franchise found a new parent club with the Washington Senators, and abandoned the “Alamance” designator to become the Burlington Senators. The Senators were around for seven years, and when the big-league club moved to Texas, the team became the Burlington Rangers for only the 1972 season. Professional baseball returned to Burlington with the Appalachian League’s Burlington Indians in 1986, and the team plays today at the Burlington Royals.

 

 

Ephemera

 

Burlington Daily Times News May 8, 1958
Serifed A on the caps. 1958.

 

Burlington Daily Times News April 22, 1959
1959

 

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I think this is informal/promotional and I don’t think the team had a nickname/place name reversal.

 

Burlington Daily Times News April 12, 1962

 

Burlington Daily Times News April 19, 1962
1962. (from left) Bob Chance, Ken Ellwein, Tommie Agee, John Butler

 

Burlington Daily Times News April 20, 1963

 

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Cultural insensitivity thrived in that era

 

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Confusing information in the Encyclopedia

 

 

 

 

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