The Winchester Royals Story
The Winchester Royals are a storied baseball team that competes in the highly regarded Valley Baseball League, a summer collegiate wooden bat league consisting of 12 teams in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The Valley Baseball League is endorsed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and sponsored in part by a donation from Major League Baseball, making it one of the premier summer leagues in the country.
As a member of the Valley Baseball League, the Winchester Royals have a rich history of success, with 11 pennants to their name in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011, and 2012. The Winchester Royals have a storied history in the Valley Baseball League, having won an impressive 13 league championships in ‘79, ‘80, ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, ‘87, ‘90, ‘92, ‘93, ‘97, ‘01, ‘03, and ‘04. Their success is a testament to the team’s commitment to excellence both on and off the field. The Royals continue to attract top collegiate talent from across the country and consistently field a competitive team each year. The Royals have also sent dozens of players to the professional ranks, with several reaching the Major Leagues.
The Winchester Royals are not just a team, but a vital part of the Winchester community. In addition to providing affordable family entertainment all summer long, the Royals also work with local charities and organizations to give back to the community that has supported them for decades. Whether you’re a die-hard baseball fan or just looking for a fun night out, the Winchester Royals are sure to deliver a memorable experience.
The Winchester Royals have had an impressive history of success. The team has won multiple pennants over the years, including in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011, and 2012. These achievements showcase the Royals’ legacy of excellence, dedication, and hard work both on and off the field, as they have consistently demonstrated a commitment to their community and a passion for the game of baseball.
Royals History 1979-Present
2018 marked the Winchester Royals’ 40th summer collegiate baseball season, introducing both great baseball to the Winchester community and a great community to the players and their families. The players that make up the Royals are recruited from colleges and universities from all over the Country. While here for the summer, they live with local host families. Those players who need part time employment work for supporting businesses in our community. Sponsors and promotional advertising packages, as well as admission to games help finance the team’s expenses. The players are not paid, as stipulated by NCAA regulations.
Home for the Winchester Royals is Kevin Anderson Field at Bridgeforth Stadium, a City of Winchester facility managed by Shenandoah University located in Jim Barnett Park. Bridgeforth Field is a lighted, 1500 seat stadium with an enclosed press box, concession stand, and restrooms. A sprinkler system was installed in the summer of 1998. The team name Royals doesn’t come from the Kansas City Royals, but by way of the Bridgeforth family, owners of the local Royal Crown Cola bottling franchise. The Bridgeforth family was the primary original benefactor and it is for them the Field is named.
Keith Lupton, a local radio personality, was the original owner of the Winchester Royals and owned the team from 1979-1981. The team changed to a sub-Chapter S Corporation with Joe Pasquali and Bill Collins owning it from 1982-1984; Collins then became sole owner from 1985-1992; Donald Jones (deceased) from 1993-1995; Todd Thompson from 1996-2004; to the present 501 (c)(3) entity.
Winchester joined the Valley Baseball League in 1979, the same year Bridgeforth Field was completed. The first five years in the League found the Royals winning the Valley Baseball League Championship. Over the 40-year span the Royals have won nine pennants (1979-1981, 1990, 1992, and 2001-2004); and thirteen League championships (1979-1983, 1987, 1990, 1992-1993, 1997, 2001, and 2003-2004). In addition, approximately thirty former Royals have played on Major League teams, most notably, Jimmy Key, Reggie Sanders, Mike Williams, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Adam Everett, and Kyle Snyder. Currently, Cory Spangenberg, Tyler Thornburg, E. J. Edgin, and Chris Numm, are playing in the Show. Many more are in the minor leagues working their way up to the “show”.
Many other former Royals have also gone on to become assistant and head baseball coaches at major universities, as Major League scouts, and in other baseball capacities. Former Royals head coach, Dayton Moore (George Mason U.), is currently the General Manager for the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals.
Highlights of the Royals brief history
1979 – The Royals win the first of 5 consecutive championships
1979-81 – The Royals first manager, Larry Bryant (Georgia Southern College), won 3 pennants and 3 League championships
1980 – During the championship game with New Market, the Royals hit 5 consecutive home runs
1980 – Dennis Clowe (Cochise JC) displayed awesome home run power by hitting 16 Hr’s in a 3-week period
1981 – Clay Daniel (Florida) pitched the Royals first no-hitter in beating Waynesboro 10-0
1981 – The Royals finished the season with an overall record of 42-7
1983 – During a championship play-off game with Staunton, the Royals trailing 18-8 going into the 8th inning came back to win the game 20-18 behind the HR power of Catcher Jim McCollum (Clemson)
1984 – Jimmy Key (Clemson) became the first Royal to make it to a Major League team with Toronto
1987 – Mark Davidson (Clemson) was the first Royal to play in a World Series as a member of the Minnesota Twins
1990 – Mickey Kerns (Alabama) blasted four Hr’s in a game at New Market
1993 – Reese Murdaugh (VCU) struck out Staunton’s Mark Hamlin on a called 3rd strike with 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, to capture game 5 of the championship series by a score of 4-3
1997 – July 31st, the Royals won their 500th franchise game defeating Waynesboro 10-4
2006 – June 3rd Opening Night, Paul Burnside (Auburn) pitched a perfect game no-hitter in beating Front Royal 2-0
2011 – Cory Spangenberg (VMI-2010) was the 10th overall selection by San Diego the 2011 MLB Amateur Baseball Draft
2012 – Set a team record 84 HR’s in a 52 game season
2012 – Jimmy Yezzo (Delaware) set team records in most games played (52); most At Bats (218); and most doubles (21)
2016 – Royals advance to play-off for first time since 2012
2017 – Royals make it to the 3rd and final game of Northern Division Championship.
Our History is YOUR Hitory
In the past 44 years, the hard work and dedication of the volunteers, host families, local businesses, and the loyal fans have set the standards of winning baseball games and so much more. These are the support TEAM and the heart of the Winchester Royals organization. This year, the successes, the defeats, the learning experiences, the friendships, and the lasting memories will become the 44th chapter of the Royals rich history.