Entertainment Magazine: Entertaining Tucson Vol. 1: Tucson Toros

A new 1978-79 season with the Tucson Toros

The 1978-79 season started out well for the Tucson Toros. [1] For most of the first half, it looked as though the Toros were to win the first title in their division of the Pacific Coast League. The Tucson Toros were doing great until they played a three game series with the Albuquerque Dukes. The Dukes swept the series and cut the 6-1⁄2 game lead the Toros had over them to 3-1⁄2 games (The Dukes eventually won the title).

The Toros, however, were still in the race until the parent club, the Texas Rangers, began to make trades and call up players. A trade sent the Toros’ starting catcher Mike Heath to the Oakland A’s; another sent one of Tucson’s top hitters Gary Holle to the Chicago White Sox; and the Rangers called up second baseman LaRue Washington and pitcher Danny Darwin.

The trading of Holle and Heath, and the calling up of Washington and Darwin, led the Toros to call players up themselves. They called up two from Class AA: Tulsa catcher Fla Strawn and second baseman, Ron Gooch. Strawn was here for only a month, but Gooch remained.

In July, there was talk of a trade that the Rangers wanted to make. This trade would have sent Mickey Rivers from the Yankees to the Rangers. In exchange, the Rangers would have sent Mike Hart, Gary Gray and two other players to the Yankees. However, the trade was voided by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn because Hart and Gray did not clear waivers. The trade between the Yankees and the Rangers did go through, however, with Oscar Gamble going to the Yankees and Mickey Rivers going to the Rangers.

A dispute between the Toros and Rangers concerning exhibition games played here led to the severing of the contract between these teams. After negotiation with all of the Major League teams, the Toros narrowed their choices to ten teams; then, finally one. Happily, the Tucson Toros are now the top farm club of the Houston Astros.

“It’s an exciting organization,” comments Jack Donovan, general manager of the Tucson Toros. “We thought it was the best move for the City of Tucson.”

“I think Tucson is great. It’s a pleasure to be here. This is a good place for the kids to play in and live in, they won’t have to worry about things they shouldn’t have to worry about,” said Bill Wood, Minor League Director of the Astros who was present during this interview.

The Astros are the fourth parent club that the Toro’s had– the others being the Chicago White Sox, from 1969-1972; the Oakland A’s, from 1973-1976; and the Rangers, from 1977-1979.

The Toros had a tremendous Booster Club headed off by Fred Kalat, “Freddie the Toro.” The booster club was doing something for the players, their wives, the reporters, and were always helping the management. General Manager of the Toros, Jack Donovan, summed up the season, “It was a great year, enthusiasm stayed even though Tucson didn’t win the pennant." 

[1] The Tucson Toros was a professional baseball team founded in 1969. The original Tucson Toros were a Triple-A Minor League baseball team in the Pacific Coast League until 1997. In 1998, the team became the Tucson Sidewinders. In 2000, the Sidewinders were purchased by Tucson Baseball, LLC. Owner Jay Zucker also revived the Tucson Toros for two seasons in 2008 and 2009 at Hi Corbett Field.

2014 © Entertainment Magazine and BZB Publishing, Inc., Robert Zucker and Newsreal, Jonathan L. All rights are reserved. These are the compiled works of contributed materials from writers and photographers previously published in the Tucson Teen, Magazine, Entertainment Magazine and Newsreal newspapers, and from Entertainment Magazine On Line (EMOL.org). No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher.

Permission is granted to use quotes and cite references to the contents in this book with proper credit noted: “Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades,” © 2014 Entertainment Magazine.”

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Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades
Volume 1

by Robert E. Zucker

The local entertainment scene in Tucson, Arizona during the 1950s through 1985 was vibrant– from the ‘50s rock and roll of the Dearly Beloved to the ‘80s with the Pills, Giant Sandworms and everything in between– classic rock, disco, alternative, punk, hard core, country, swing and Big Band. Hundreds of bands and thousands of entertainers over three decades. Within these pages are the memories and the experiences of those people and places.

These are the original articles and interviews published in several local newspapers that covered the Tucson entertainment scene over the decades. Follow their stories through the years– the big breaks, record releases, hot performances and duds, break ups, tragedies, personal insights and struggles.

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