The Wilmington Waves of Wilmington, North Carolina, played one season in the South Atlantic League. In that season, they served as a Class A-Advanced level affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the 2000 baseball season, there were 32 teams at Class-A Advanced and 28 teams at regular Single-A. Though I do not know for sure whether there was intentional effort on the part of the NAPBL, this wrinkle was ironed out in time for the 2001 season. It seems that two High-A teams (the Florida State League’s Kissimmee Cobras and St. Petersburg Devil Rays) were contracted from existence, and two Low-A teams were created–the Lexington Legends and the Wilmington Waves. This was during the stretch of a few seasons when the two full-season Single-A levels were set up where each team had one affiliate at each level. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who had fielded two High-A clubs–the San Bernardino Stampede and Vero Beach Dodgers–let go of the Stampede and signed on with the new Wilmington Waves.
The Waves did about as well as they could with preliminary efforts at establishing a brand. Their place name and nickname were alliterative, and referenced the local whitecaps crashing into North Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. Team colors were a pleasing Dodger-esque blue and white, and a neat logo had the team name spelled out with a wave crashing over the W and the S turning into water. Though they played only one season at a lower level in the minors, Wilmington had a whopping twelve players on the 2001 roster go on to crack the big leagues. Even more remarkable is that those twelve included notables like Shane Victorino, Tom Goodwin, and Joel Hanrahan.
The Waves played their games on the campus of UNC-Wilmington, and were not successful at getting fans to come out to the park. For 2002, the franchise was moved to Albany, Georgia, but retained the same branding materials–playing as the South Georgia Waves. In ’03, the team was moved to nearby Columbus, Georgia. After another season with the Waves moniker, they became the Columbus Catfish. That terrific identity didn’t catch on, though, and after the 2008 season, the team was moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where they were eventually transferred to the Low-A Midwest League. The Bowling Green Hot Rods play to this day, while the one-year wonder Wilmington Waves are little more than flotsam in the vast ocean of minor league history.