With the 26th season of baseball less than three months from starting, the Huntsville Stars can look back at a quarter of a century in which a winning formula has been established in "The Rocket City."
Since 2001, the Stars have been a participant in the Southern League playoffs five times, sharing the league crown with Jacksonville in 2001. The championship series was called off due to the terrorist attacks that effected the United States on September 11 of that year.
In their all-time history, the Stars have been a postseason participant in the Southern League 12 times. As a matter of fact, the Stars soared to the top of the SL in their inaugural season, 1985, beating Knoxville in the division series three games to one and winning a hard fought championship series from Chattanooga three games to two.
One year later, with the talent of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Terry Steinback, Walt Weiss and others before they were moving to play for the Oakland Athletics, the Stars reached the championship series again. But this time the Columbus Braves prevented a repeat performance, defeating the Stars in five thrilling games.
Huntsville made it three consecutive trips to the playoffs in 1987 with a first ever postseason meeting against their in-state rival the Birmingham Barons. Unfortunately for the Stars, their run of getting to the SLCS was stopped in the divisional series with Birmingham sweeping the Stars, ending Huntsville's quest at Joe Davis Stadium.
The Stars were a playoff ball club during the seasons of 1990, 1992, 1994, 1997 and 1998. The '94 season was the best performance in the decade with the Stars winning the Southern League title for the second time in franchise history, knocking off the Carolina Mudcats three games to one.
Huntsville was back in the SLCS in 2003 after taking down Birmingham in five thrilling games during the divisional series. However, the Stars were unable to keep the momentum going and lost the crown to Charlotte in five games.
From last season, the Stars were good enough to take the first half title in the North Division of the Southern League with a 38-31 record. That gave them a berth into the playoffs, but they were eliminated from the postseason by Tennessee in four games.
Despite having the worst record in the second half of any SL club at 25-44, the Stars look to 2010 with plenty of positive in trying to take the Eastern Division crown from Tennessee. The Smokies finished 39-31 in the second half last year to get a shot at playing Huntsville for the division title with Tennessee having the better result.
The 26th season for baseball with the Stars as a member of the Southern League begins April 8 with a five-game series on the road against Chattanooga. Huntsville comes to Joe Davis Stadium for the first time on April 14, facing Jacksonville in a five-game homestand that will go through April 18.