Calgary Inferno

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Calgary Inferno
Founded in 1995
Calgary, Alberta Flag of Canada.svg.png
Calgary Inferno 2017.png
Team logo
Calgary Inferno C.png
Secondary logo
CGY-jerseys.png
Team Uniforms (Home/Away)

Affiliations
League Bull League
Subleague Metropolitan League
Division ML West (2018-)

AEL East (1995-2017)

Team Info
Name Calgary Inferno (2010-present)

Other nicknames Flames

Previous names Calgary Chinooks (1995-2009)

Colors Crimson, gold, charcoal

              

Owner Tom Rice, Jr.

General manager Addie B
Ballpark
Ballpark Inferno Park
Titles
Bull Cup championships (2) 2015, 2017
League pennants (7) 1997, 1999, 2010, 2015—2017, 2021
Division titles (9) 1996—1997, 1999—2000, 2002, 2013—2014, 2017, 2021
Playoff appearances (14) 1996,—1997, 1999—2000, 2002, 2010, 2012—2017, 2021—2022



The Calgary Inferno are a Canadian professional baseball team based in Calgary, Alberta. The team competes in the Bull League playing in the Metropolitan League (ML) West division. They play their home games at Inferno Park.

The name Inferno is inspired by the frequent wild fires that occur in the province of Alberta, and the team logo is a flaming baseball. They are considered one of the more successful clubs in the ML, and have 12 playoff appearances, including 6 Bull Cup championship appearances and 2 championships.

The team all-time win-loss record at the end of 2019 stood at 1133-1000 (.531).

History

1995-2002: Early Successes

In 1995 the Bull League reorganized and expanded from 12 to 16 teams, marking the beginning of somewhat of a "modernization" period. The Calgary Chinooks were one of those early expansion teams, at that time finding themselves inserted into what was then the American Eagle League East division, along with the fledgling Denver Highlanders.

The other two teams in that division, the Chicago Pit Bulls and the Nevada Speeders, were part of the founding clubs from the original 1991 league.

Calgary was a solid team from the start, though they were not quite contenders in their first season, ending up 37-43 (.463) and finishing tied for 2nd with Chicago just 3 games behind Denver.

Still, the Chinooks had adequate run production of 5.1 runs per game, and stifling pitching and defense that kept opponents to an average of just 4.5 runs against per game. Two players would win Platinum Glove Awards that year, future Hall of Fame pitcher Kurt Coler and second baseman Ben Day. Coler would place second in strikeouts that year as well, with 119, just behind Chicago ace Joe Cool, another HOFer.

Calgary started heating up by next season, as Coler finished 3rd in Sandy Koufax Award voting and the 45-35 (.563) Chinooks made their way to their first of many postseasons. Right fielder "Speed" Lewis (another future Hall of Fame inductee) nearly led the AEL in steals coming 2nd with 31 (Dave Norman had 34), and 2nd in triples with 7. His 14 homers led the club, as he solidified himself as one of the best early "5-tools" players in the game.

On the pitching side, the club put up 2 of the 3 AEL leading 10-win pitchers that season, and Coler led the league in WAR leading to his nearly being awarded the Sandy Koufax and go on to claim a pitching Triple Crown. Calgary would exit the playoffs thanks to the Richmond Ravens superior offense, but the taste of success would whet Calgary's appetite for the next 6 seasons, which saw them off to four more playoff appearances, including a first Bull Cup championship appearance the next year, 1997.

After sweeping Richmond this time in the AELCS, 3-0, they challenged the New York Minutemen and took them to the full five games, eventually falling 3-2. This time, Coler would not be denied his Koufax Award, after posting an 11-3 season record, 2.26 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and tying for the AEL lead in strikeouts at 116. Calgary nearly swept the Platinum Glove Awards as well, with pitcher Jerry Scovell, catcher Tony Relish, first baseman Jeff Johnston, second baseman Nicky Larue, center fielder Ryan Pettit and right fielder Lewis all receiving the defensive hardware that season.[1]

In 1999, after a one year blip, Calgary was back in the Bull Cup series again facing off with New York, who were in the midst of their dynastic run and would go on to win their record-setting third Bull Cup championship in a row. This time it was Chinooks ace Own Clemons who would be named Sandy Koufax winner, while reliever Ivan Dorado took home the Woodchuck Trophy after going 5-1 with 21 saves, and crafting a 1.72 ERA. Though the offense was not quite on par with their rivals, Lewis still managed to lead the league in triples with 9 and stole 26 bases for 2nd most in the AEL,and Mike Stetser placed 4th on the home run leaderboard.

But again it was the pitching that Calgary was quickly becoming known for that put them deep into their third postseason since their expansion appearance. Tom Dewolfe ended the year with 12 wins to take the AEL title, Coler and Jerry Scovell hit #2 and #5 on the wins leaderboard, Dorado notched another 21 saves (enough to place 3rd), and Coler was again near the top of the strikeout chart with 109. Three Calgary pitchers had WAR scores of 3.3 or more, and Clemons led the AEL with 3.5.[2]

In 2000, the Chinooks had their best franchise finish yet, going 56-24 (.700) to once again find themselves in the playoffs. This time, the California Tidals saw them off in the AELCS, but two years later the Chinooks were back again, with another AEL East division pennant, and the best record in the league, at 52-28 (.650). This time, it was the San Diego Seagulls turn to take the Chinooks out of the AELCS, marking the end of a 7-year run where the expansion club made five playoff appearances, including two BCCS contests.

2003-2011: Lean Years, Inferno Rebirth

By 2003, Dewolfe, Clemons, and Coler had all left the team for free agency (with Coler actually leaving after 1999). Slugger "Bam Bam" Stetser left after 2000, and third baseman Deadend Myfriend was experiencing a serious decline. With the core of what was one of the best pitching staffs in the AEL gutted, and what little offense the Chinooks had now fizzling, the team fell to a 4th place finish that year, a dismal 37-43 (.463) close to the season.

The team added speedy contact hitter Dave Norman (and current all-time stolen base king) back in 2001, but he never stole more than 11 bases again the rest of his career after 2002, and though his hitting and run production would continue as a Chinook, the list of players who could regularly drive him home shrank.

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Cody "Crime Spree" Martin was a third baseman drafted 2nd overall by Calgary in 2009

The waning offense continued, though the performance lull provided an opportunity for the club to wipe the salary slate clean, and take on some top draft talent, as they added pitchers Jake Figurski (2004), Kyle Cahill (2005) and Matthew Rendall (2010), along with slugger Cody "Crime Spree" Martin (2009) all first round picks in their respective draft years.[3]

Figurski was moved in a 6-player deal to acquire Francisco Erazo from the Boston Brawlers, in what could generously be described as a lopsided deal favoring Boston heavily, as Erazo was by then an expensive rental that Calgary was not willing to extend. Cahill proved more fruitful a draft pick, becoming a #4 prospect and providing meaningful starts right through the dreary years and into the good ones, which came after 2011.

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Calgary Inferno logo from 2010-2016

Rendall stuck around as well, contributing to the team's rebirth, which was already underway in 2010 when he was drafted, and the club was renamed to the Calgary Inferno. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Calgary found their way to their first playoffs since 2002, ending a 7-year drought with a young #1 prospect Cody Martin showing early flashes of talent, hitting .309 with 11 runs and 12 RBIs in just 25 games at the major level.

In 2011, the team fell back out of contention again, ending the year 34-46(.425), but it would be the end of the doldrums for the fresh-faced, newly rebranded Inferno, as Martin and Ling would both be starting regularly in the lineup, and a young Cahill would also be ready to take a leadership role in the rotation soon, too.

2012-2017: AEL Dynasty

The Inferno roared back to life in 2012, the year of the four-team expansion, in a big way, finishing 2nd in the AEL East with a 49-33 (.598) record, and taking out the Jacksonville Ravens in five games in the Elimination Round. They were bested by the California Tidals, who were beginning a back-to-back Bull Cup championship run that year, but the numbers would not lie.

Calgary were second in run production that year, with 5.3 runs per game, and third in pitching, with a 3.7 runs against per game. Their pitching staff completed an incredible 23 games, three batters won Gold Crown Awards for their positions (Dao-zi Ling at catcher, Miguel Ortega at second base, and future Hall of Fame left fielder Joe Balaski).

Balaski accomplished a remarkable feat by winning the Gold Crown hardware as he had broken a rib in July that season, missing nearly a month of what was already a much shorter season at 82-games than is played today.

The Inferno followed 2012 with back-to-back first place finishes in their division, first nearly matching their 2000 finish of .700 in 2013 with a 57-25 (.695) record. California again saw the Inferno off in that year's AELCS, needing the full five games to do so. The Tidals kneecapped the Inferno the following year in the Elimination Round, as again the teams were quite evenly matched.

The 2014 roster included MVP award winner Dao-zi Ling, who had a huge year with a .353 average, 30 homers, and a 5.7 WAR. Cody Martin took the home run title with 33 dingers, and tied for the RBI title with Roberto Lozano of the Denver Highlanders. Now no longer reliant on their pitching, as with the earlier Calgary teams, they nevertheless had a very capable Angelo Rodriguez in the rotation that season, having been signed as a free agent the previous winter. A-Rod led the AEL in strikeouts with 138, and completed 5 games, while a young Kevin Krohn, in his sophomore year, saved 20 games.

2015: First Championship

In 2015, the Inferno finally did it. After a wild card entry into the playoffs, thanks to a solid 51-31 (.622) finish behind the Ravens, they sorted out AEL West title holders, Seattle, dispatching them in 4 games in the Elimination Round before taking on their division superiors, the Ravens, for the AELCS. The Inferno used every ounce , relying on far better offense but weathering the Ravens far better pitching, to squeeze past Jacksonville in five games, claiming their first AELCS title since 2010. Ling would be named AELCS series MVP.

In the BCCS, Calgary contended with the LLCS champion Hamilton Crusaders. After a hard fought series, Calgary emerged on top, winning their first Bull Cup in franchise history, in their 21st year since joining the league. Third baseman Jose Espinoza, who has signed as a free agent in 2010, won the Bull Cup MVP award.

A year later, in 2016, the Inferno fell to the Ohio Oxen in a controversial series that went the full five games.

2017: A Repeat

However, in 2017 the Inferno were back in the Bull Cup again, after finishing 59-41 (.590) to top their division in the first year of the 100-game schedule being used. The Inferno had earlier dealt out the Anchorage Aces in four games in the Elimination Round, then swept away the Jacksonville Ravens, setting them up to take on the Montreal Metros for all the chips.

With the best offense in the league, captained by Logans Run, Israel Medina, Jay Roc, Cody Martin and Dao-zi Ling, the Inferno proved a tough opponent to beat. They won their second franchise Bull Cup after going the full five games again.

2018—present

Since achieving their 2 Bull Cups, and being shuffled into the West division for 2018, Calgary has not made a playoff reappearance. They have lost Ling, Martin, and some of their other big names from their championship years. They crashed to a 5th place, 66-96 finish in the first year of the new 162-game schedule in 2019 and do not look ready to recover any time soon.

General Managers

Calgary Inferno General Managers
Years Name Record Notes
2008–2016 Alex Gutierrez 387-321 (.547) Gutierrez joined the Calgary Chinooks, as they were then known in 2008, after two successful but short stints as GM in San Diego (1998-2000) and in California (2003-2007), where he managed to guide both teams to playoff runs. His experience paid off for Calgary, where he took a flailing club that went 23-34 (.404) in his first partial season, all the way to five consecutive playoff appearances, including a Bull Cup win in 2015.
2018–2022 Andy Turnbull 112-150 (.427) Turnbull was hired as GM after he had several successful seasons bringing the Seattle Salts to multiple playoff finishes. Unfortunately, Calgary was already crashing after their own Bull Cup success in 2015, and in his first few seasons the former San Diego Seagulls pitcher has struggled to turn the team around.
2023–present Addie B Addie joined the Bull League as the first female General Manager and started off with a successful playoff run in her first season with Calgary.

Retired Numbers

The Calgary Inferno have retired just one uniform number, Hall of Fame right fielder Sean 'Speed' Lewis.

Calgary Inferno Retired Uniform Numbers
Calgary-36-retired.png

Speed Lewis
Right fielder
Retired 2014

Awards and other achievements

Player awards

Carl Simms MVP Award

    See article: Carl Simms MVP Award

Sandy Koufax Award

    See article: Sandy Koufax Award

Rookie of the Year Award

    See article: Rookie of the Year Award

Woodchuck Trophy

    See article: Woodchuck Trophy

Team Records

For career hitting percentage records, 2,000 plate appearances are required. For career pitching percentage records, 500 innings pitched are required.

Statistic Single season record Career record
Player Record Year Player Record
Batting average Omar Little .336 2019 Dao-zi Ling .313
On base percentage Omar Little .411 2019 Alexis Canas .380
Slugging percentage Todd Salvato .549 2019 Cody Martin .570
At bats Cesar Torres 631 2019 Cam Bowers 3,466
Runs Cesar Torres 108 2019 Cam Bowers 514
Hits Omar Little 202 2019 Cam Bowers 1,029
Doubles Omar Little 40 2019 Cam Bowers 222
Triples Miguel Ortega 12 2014 Miguel Ortega 38
Home runs Cody Martin 42 2019 Cody Martin 180
Runs batted in Omar Little 122 2019 Cam Bowers 651
Stolen bases Cesar Torres 61 2019 Sean Lewis 111
Earned runs average Batbreaker Barker 5.82 2019 Kurt Coler 3.14
Wins Tom Dewolfe
Fernando Latorre
12 1999
2017
Jerry Scovell 63
Losses Takehide Higuchi 19 2019 Jerry Scovell 45
Saves Kevin Krohn
John Wallace
23 2013
2019
Ivan Dorado 113
Games pitched John Wallace 61 2019 Jing-shuan Bing 289
Games started Takehide Higuchi 31 2019 Jerry Scovell 139
Complete games Takehide Higuchi 10 2019 Luis Fernandez 16
Shutouts Luis Fernandez 3 2012 Owen Clemons
Luis Fernandez
5
Innings pitched Takahide Higuchi 234.2 2019 Jerry Scovell 901.1
Strikeouts Takahide Higuchi 189 2019 Luis Fernandez 769

Hall of Fame Players

The table below lists the players who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame who have played for the Inferno (or, previously, the Chinooks). Players listed in bold were inducted wearing their Inferno uniform.

Calgary Inferno Hall of Famers
Player Position Years with Inferno Inducted
Kurt Coler Pitcher 1995—1999 2012
Sean 'Speed' Lewis Right fielder 1996—1999 2014
Bill Schaffer Right fielder 1995 2009
George Slammer Left fielder 2005—2009 2016
Eric Tessier Catcher 2014 2019

Championships

Calgary-BC-2015-2017.png
Bull Cup champions
Preceded by:
Montreal Metros
2015 Succeeded by:
Ohio Oxen
Preceded by:
Ohio Oxen
2017 Succeeded by:
Montreal Metros
Metropolitan League pennants
Preceded by:
Richmond Ravens
1997
(as Calgary Chinooks)
Succeeded by:
Nevada Speeders
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
1999
(as Calgary Chinooks)
Succeeded by:
California Tidals
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
2010 Succeeded by:
Richmond Ravens
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
20152017 Succeeded by:
St. Petersburg Admirals
Metropolitan League East division titles
Preceded by:
Denver Highlanders
19961997
(as Calgary Chinooks)
Succeeded by:
Nevada Speeders
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
19992000
(as Calgary Chinooks)
Succeeded by:
Nevada Speeders
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
2002
(as Calgary Chinooks)
Succeeded by:
Nevada Speeders
Preceded by:
Nevada Speeders
20132014 Succeeded by:
Jacksonville Ravens
Preceded by:
Denver Highlanders
2017 Succeeded by:
St. Petersburg Admirals

Minor League Affiliations

Calgary Inferno Minor League Affiliates
Level Team League Location
AAA Kelowna Inferno Cow League Kelowna, British Columbia
AA Hussar Barbers Heifer League Hussar, Alberta
A Lethbridge Raiders Calf League Lethbridge, Alberta
Short Season A Long Beach Saxons SoCal League Long Beach, California
Rookie Sarasota Inferno Florida Rookie League Sarasota, Florida

References

  1. Metropolitan League 1997. BNN. http://bullleague.org/public_html/bull-league/reports/html/history/sl_stats_100_1_1997.html. 2020/01/01. Accessed: 17 May 2019
  2. Metropolitan League 1999. BNN. http://bullleague.org/public_html/bull-league/reports/html/history/sl_stats_100_1_1999.html. 2020/01/01. Accessed: 17 May 2019.
  3. Calgary Inferno, Draft History. BNN. http://bullleague.org/public_html/bull-league/reports/html/history/team_15_draft_history.html. 2020/01/01. Accessed: 17 May 2019.