Great Falls Dodgers
The Great Falls Dodgers of Great Falls, Montana, played a cumulative total of twenty seasons in the Pioneer League, in two distinct eras. The first version of the team identity popped up for one season in 1957 as a Class C level affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The second version served nearly two decades as a Rookie level affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both identities were part of the same continuous Great Falls franchise playing the Pioneer League.
The original Great Falls Dodgers were very short lived. By 1956, the Great Falls Electrics were an established brand in the Pioneer League, and had been a Brooklyn farm club for most the Fifties. Then, for one season in 1957, they changed their nickname to the Great Falls Dodgers for some unknown reason. The new name apparently didn’t take, because in ’58, they were back to the Electrics–even though they were still affiliated with the Dodgers, who had just moved to Los Angeles. There were three future major leaguers who suited up in Great Falls that year, but none went on to have notable baseball careers.
The second version of the Great Falls Dodgers began following the 1983 season, when the Great Falls Giants signed on with a new California-based NL team. For all their years, the GF-Dodgers were a consummate COTOB, and their remarkably consistent visual aesthetic was unmistakably LA-based. Amid the Dodger blue and cursive script, however, Great Falls had a creative and attractive cap logo, with an interlocking G and F rendered in a style similar to that of the parent club’s L and A. This look would carry them through for nearly two decades.
On the diamond, Great Falls served as an early stop for many future major league standouts, including Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez in 1990. Other alums over the years include Jeff Nelson, Mike Devereaux, John Wetteland, Eric Karros, José Offerman, Raúl Mondesi, Shane Victorino, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Broxton.
The end of the Great Falls Dodgers identity seemingly came about in the wake of a few complicated moves at the Rookie level. In the late nineties, the Milwaukee Brewers had two affiliates in the Pioneer League; their COTOB in Helena and the Ogden Raptors. In 2000, the original Helena Brewers moved to Provo, Utah, and became an Angels affiliate. Milwaukee stuck with the Raptors, but after the 2002 season, the Medicine Hat Blue Jays moved to Helena and became the second version of the Brewers. Milwaukee then abandoned Ogden in favor of their resurrected COTOB, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pounced on the Raptors, leaving Great Falls behind. With L.A. out of the picture, Great Falls signed on with Chicago and a new identity was born in the Great Falls White Sox. This franchise still plays in the Pioneer league and is affiliated with the White Sox, but these days they are known as the Great Falls Voyagers.