The Huntsville Stars of Huntsville, Alabama, played in the Southern League for an even thirty years. Over that span, the Stars served as the Double-A affiliate for two MLB teams–the Oakland Athletics and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Stars were born following the 1984 season, a season in which there was a team called the Evansville Triplets that played in the Triple-A American Association and another team called the Nashville Sounds that played in the Double-A Southern League. Both of these teams were owned by a man named Larry Schmittou. After that season, in a somewhat complicated series of moves, the Triplets moved to Nashville and took on the Sounds identity, effectively being promoted to a higher level. As the Southern League was now missing a team, Schmittou planted the empty shell of the old Sounds in Huntsville, Alabama, where mayor Joe Davis had led the charge to build a new stadium that would be named after him.
In reference to Huntsville being the center for NASA’s rocket propulsion research, the team was called the Stars. Team colors were a patriotic red, white, and blue, and the primary logo featured a sweeping star shooting out from the team name wordmark. The Stars wore navy blue caps with a simple italicized letter H.
They signed on with the Oakland A’s, and this could not have been more fortuitous timing, as the A’s were developing the core of players who would go on to win the World Series by the end of the decade. The first season alone featured Jose Canseco, Terry Steinbach, and Tim Belcher; followed shortly by Mark McGwire, Walt Weiss, and (for what it’s worth) Jose’s brother Ozzie Canseco. Other notables to pass through during the A’s era include Mike Bordick, Scott Brosius, Todd Van Poppel, Jason Giambi, Tony Batista, Ben Grieve, Miguel Tejada, Ramón Hernández, Eric Chávez, and Tim Hudson.
In 1994, the team made a small change to their visual identity when they replaced simple H on their cap logo with a more stylized, loopy letter H with an embedded silver star. This logo would only last a few years, however, and in 1998, the team trotted out a cluttered-looking cap with the full place name in cursive above a new simplified Stars logo. This cap would only be worn by Oakland’s prospects for one season, though, because the Stars had a new parent on the horizon.
In 1999, following 14 years with the A’s, the Stars began an affiliation with the Brewers that would last the 16 remaining seasons of their existence. In a crazy coincidence that sort of bridges the gap between the two eras, the 1998 Huntsville team had an A’s pitching prospect who would go on to play for the Royals named Jeff D’Amico. In 1999, the Brewers sent one of their young pitchers to Huntsville for a rehab start. His name was…wait for it….Jeff D’Amico. It’s one of those coincidences that is too weird to be amusing. It must have been written in the stars. Not many big names came through in the early years of the Brewers affiliation, though Ben Sheets did pitch for Huntsville in 2000.
By 2003, the Stars were sporting an updated look, replacing the pullover shirts with button-down uniforms featuring a Milwaukee-esque cursive script. The cap was updated to yet another H with a sweeping star–this one more sleek and reflective of its time period. The Brewers were able to find quality players to wear these new uniforms, including J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Nelson Cruz, Ryan Braun, and Yovani Gallardo.
In 2008, the team updated their visuals one more time. Rather than do another H with a sweeping/shooting star, they developed two cap logos–one an H with elliptical orbit surrounding it, and the other a plain shooting star with a gold added to the star’s tail. The primary logo was switched to an attractive, if cluttered, affair featuring the A in stars made into a star with the aforementioned elliptical shape, as well a rocket blasting off above the T.
These later years saw some productive players take the field at the rapidly aging Joe Davis stadium, including Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Michael Brantley, Jonathan Lucroy, John Axford, Brett Lawrie, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Jimmy Nelson, and Mitch Haniger.
By the early 2010s, rumors were swirling that Joe Davis was not up to snuff by Southern League standards, and attendance was certainly lagging. Following the 2014 season, the team was sold to an ownership group that blasted them off to Biloxi, Mississippi, where they are now known as the Biloxi Shuckers.