The Queens Kings of Queens, New York City, New York, played one season in the New York Penn-League, serving as the Class A-Short Season affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Kings were crowned following the 1999 season, when the St. Catharine’s Stompers were sold to a group that intended to eventually move them to Brooklyn, New York.
With only partial information available on the team’s history, I can only speculate about the mechanisms that drove the creation of the Queens Kings. At the time, a new ballpark was being built in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and there was a clear intention to move a team there upon completion of the park. A big question that I have is why the new owners would choose to relocate the team one season before the park was done, and go through all the trouble of branding a new team that would only play three months worth of baseball? Perhaps the owner lived in the New York area and preferred to keep tabs on a team playing close by, rather than have to drive to Ontario? That’s just a guess, though. Either way, the Kings are a perfect example of a placeholder team–never intended to last, and they spent that lone season in the baseball field of St. John’s University in Queens.
A curious thing about the Kings, though, is how much effort they put into establishing a unique identity. They could’ve just been the “Queens Blue Jays” or something similarly cheap and easy, but instead, they designed a full and detailed minor league brand. The nickname Kings paired with the place name Queens was a decent pun, and I appreciate that the one and only time that Queens had an affiliated minor league team, they were called something so memorable.
Team colors included purple, gold, and teal, all serving to embellish the period-appropriate dark color scheme. Logos were based around an attractive capital letter Q with a fanciful crown perched at a 45 degree angle atop the letter. On caps, the Q with crown was featured in its bare form, but the primary logo had the word Kings above the Q, rendered in a unique typeface, and poking through the Q was a playing card-style king holding a bat and ball in place of a sword. Merchandise was created with a variety of color combinations, and several have been replicated and presented for sale in recent years.
On the diamond, Queens wasn’t quite playing with a full deck. Only five Kings would go on to crack the majors, but amazingly, one player would go on to an All-Star and World Champion career: Álex Ríos.
The end of the Kings was already in the cards before they were even shuffled. As expected, the uniquely-branded placeholder team was moved to Brooklyn following the 2000 season. The Brooklyn Cyclones play in the New-York Penn league to this day, and the Queens Kings will be remembered as one of the weirdest teams of all time.