Through Opening Day, we'll be looking at the stories behind some of the greatest team names in Minor League Baseball.
There are a lot of missions in Texas. Perhaps most notable is the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. It's not hard, then, to understand why the San Antonio Minor League Baseball team, currently a Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, adopted the religiously significant moniker and corresponding logo. But just like the missions themselves, the team's use of the name has a rich history.
Baseball first came to San Antonio in 1888 as a charter member of the Texas League. That first year was shaky and the original team folded midway through the season. But the team that opened the year in Austin moved to San Antonio and wrapped up that inaugural season there. Three years later, a new San Antonio team rejoined the Texas League bearing the name Missionaries.
It was an apt name, but the team would be known as the Gentleman, Bronchos, Aces, Bears, and Indians before they reintroduced the reference to the Missions to coincide with their first Major League affiliation with the St. Louis Browns in 1933. The San Antonio team kept the name and the affiliation when the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles, and survived the Texas League's hiatus during World War II. The name also stuck throughout their first stint as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. It wasn't until they joined the Houston Colt .45s franchise in 1963 that they sported a new moniker: the Bullets, to fit the theme.
The Missions came back into being when the affiliation reverted to the Cubs later that decade. When they joined the Milwaukee franchise in 1972, they adopted the Brewers' nickname for their own. Although the affiliation only lasted one season, the name stuck through years spent as part of the Indians' and Rangers' organizations, until the team joined the Dodgers' family in 1977 and took their name.
An ownership change before the 1988 season saw the San Antonio Dodgers return to their roots and be reborn as the Missions. A quarter of a century and a couple affiliation changes later, the name still stands, a testament to the long history of baseball in San Antonio.
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