Shuckers Division Win First Pro Title in 40 Years for Baltimore Area
Severn, MD (February 25, 2012) – The Baltimore area has had storied prep programs like the Dunbar Poets and some success at the collegiate level with conference championships by Coppin State, Loyola, Morgan State, Towson and UMBC; and most recently NCAA tournament appearances by the Loyola Greyhounds in 2012 and the Morgan State Bears in 2009 and 2010. On the pro circuit, however, there has been 40 years of frustration; until Saturday night that is.
On Saturday night the Bay Area Shuckers won the American Professional Basketball League (APBL) Colonial Division Championship, the first division championship won by a Baltimore area team since the Baltimore Bullets in 1972-1973.
From 1963 through 1973 the Bullets called Baltimore home. During their ten seasons in Charm City they experienced much success making the playoffs seven times, winning four division titles, and advanced to the NBA Finals in 1970-1971 before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks. They also gained personal accolades with Earl Monroe winning Rookie of the Year for the 1967-1968 season, Wed Unseld taking Rookie of the Year and League MVP honors in 1968-1969, and Gene Shue winning Coach of the Year the same season.
All that ended when the Bullets packed up and moved to the D.C. metro area evolving into today’s Washington Wizards.
The Bullets move to the Capital area, started 40 years of pro basketball futility in the Baltimore area.
For the 1975-1976 season it looked like Baltimore’s pro basketball hangover may be over when the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) Memphis Sounds moved to Baltimore. The Claws made a quick impact off the court signing Dan Issel from the ABA champion Kentucky Colonels and inking Baltimore high school legend Skip Wise.
The Claws’ home court was scheduled to be the Baltimore Arena (current 1st Mariner Arena), but the franchise folded after three exhibition games and the pro team never saw the 1975-1976 ABA regular season schedule.
In 1978-1979 Baltimore was slated to have another professional basketball team, the Baltimore Metros, this time in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). The Metros time in Baltimore was so short lived that the team receives only a short mention in the history of the CBA from the Association for Professional Basketball Research.
The CBA returned to Baltimore for the 1985-1986 season in the form of the Baltimore Lightning. The Lightning experienced some success on the court finishing in third place in the CBA’s Eastern Division at 26-22 and advancing to the division semi-finals before falling to the Bay State Bombardiers four games to two. Following their brief run in Baltimore they moved to Rockford, Illinois for the 1986-1987 season.
The next team to be added to Baltimore pro basketball history was the Baltimore Bayrunners of the International Basketball League (IBL). The Bayrunners were a charter member of the IBL for its inaugural season in 1999-2000. The Bayrunners finished their one and only season at 17-47 to land in the basement of the IBL’s East Division before disbanding for the 2000-2001 campaign
The 2001 season brought the formation of the National Rookie League (NRL) which included the Baltimore Blaze. The Blaze finished the regular season third in the five-team league, but advanced to win the league’s only championship by defeating the Philadelphia Force in the NRL title game 100-93.
In 2005-2006 the Baltimore Pearls, who called Coppin State home, played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and finished the season 2-23. In November 2006 the team announced it would not be returning to the ABA in 2006-2007.
After a string of one-year stints by the Claws, Metros, Lightning, Bayrunners, Blaze, and Pearls, the Bay Area Shuckers became the longest running team since the Baltimore Bullets to play in the area, by suiting up for the 2012-2013 season.
On Saturday, they took it one step further by winning the first professional basketball division title since the Bullets won the NBA’s Eastern Conference Central Division title in 1972-1973. With their win, the Shuckers (10-4) secured a division title in only their second season and also ended 40 years of professional basketball frustration in the Baltimore area.
The Shuckers have a bye this weekend before returning to their home court on Saturday, March 9th to play the Winchester Storm (3-7) at 7:00 PM. The game will be the final game in a six game home stand at the Annapolis Area Christian School (AACS) in Severn, Maryland. For more information on the Bay Area Shuckers please visit www.BayAreaShuckers.com.