|History||St.Paul Mayors (1961-1983), Huntsville Mayors (1983-present)|
|Arena||Explorer Stadium (aka "Rocket City", "City Hall")|
|Team colors||Orange, Black and White
|Owner(s)||Levi Walstein (male sable antelope)|
|RL Primary Contact||Shay|
|RL Secondary Contact||NA|
|General manager||Chuck Mandaville (male wolf)|
|Head coach||Papaya Valerio (male bat)|
|Assistant coach||Philip Ringer (male rat), Tyler Kiko (male goat)|
|Lead trainer||Tina Ratcliffe (female mouse)|
|Retired numbers||23 (Healey Davis)|
One of the original 6 FBA teams, the Mayors started out in St. Paul, Minnesota and, to this day, remain the only FBA club to have switched conferences when they relocated to Huntsville, Alabama.
The Early Years
The St. Paul Mayors started a long tradition when they became the first team in the FBA to hoist the Championship trophy. The lifted it again two more times, as the Mayors established themselves as a basketball powerhouse. By the 70's, the Montana Howlers took over the reins, and the Mayors' long tradition of excellence began to falter until the 80's when they began to consistently earn the worst record in the FBA.
By then, FBA team expansion demanded that a team change conferences, and the low audience attendance for the poor-performing Mayors made them the first target. Success came slowly in Alabama, as the team gradually improved through the 80's, but then blossomed suddenly with the drafting of one legendary cheetah.
The Healer's Legacy
Healey Davis was an unassuming first round draft pick in 1988, and many furs forget that he was not a sensation overnight. He didn't dazzle the demoralized crowd with his first game, but he was simply a good player. Who got better. Then better.
By 1995 it was unmistakable: Davis was unlike any other player at the time. When others before him had worked hard at improving their dunks and getting flashier, Davis kept his focus on one thing. Improving not just himself, but his team. Players that others had ignored were suddenly getting superstar stats. Players that many thought were over the hill and past their prime suddenly became champions again. And it was all because of Davis. He didn't just work on his shooting, he worked on everything. His passing, his defense, his leadership-- there was no part of Davis that wasn't completely focused on winning games no matter what. If he had to make 60 points, he did. If he had to make 20 assists, he did. If he had to pull down 30 rebounds, he did.
The Mayors touched championship gold five times in a row from 1996 to 2000. By Healey's retirement in 2001, the FBA had grown incredibly in size and success and the cheetah retired being called the greatest basketball player in the history of the league. Soon, the Finals trophy was named after him. While titles eluded them for a few years afterwards, the Mayors began consistently making the playoffs again, frequently playing in the Eastern Conference Championships.
The Korber Conundrum
By 2006, the Mayors had re-cemented their place as one of the greatest clubs in the FBA, only one title shy of the record nine titles held by the Montana Howlers. That ninth title was earned in 2009 in what many consider the best Finals series in FBA history in a brutal seven game battle pitting them against a ferocious Stanislaus Thrust.
That championship team was coached by the brilliant Rolf Korber who had previously led his teams in the German basketball league to over a dozen championships before crossing the Atlantic to coach in the FBA. His insistence for quality and discipline has been felt through the team as they've not once failed to get past the first round of the playoffs since the doberman took over in 2003. One of his first — and many call most brilliant — moves was to trade a strong player to a weak team for a future draft pick, which ended up giving him the #1 pick in 2004 for the small forward phenom Xavier Knutten. Zip-Nut has since developed into a powerhouse for the Mayors, demonstrating scoring ability from every point on the floor. Korber was successful in surrounding Zipper with top talent, from the seasoned point guard Dat Mongoste, the young but fast-pawed Jake Velox, and the well-balanced low post player Tyler Kiko.
Another great acquisition for the team was Alan Chesuk, one of the more domineering centers in the FBA, but was then traded away in 2009 to the Spokane Rapids to get their #2 draft pick. Most every sports analyst figured that Rolf was planning to draft his son, the highly rated Klaus Korber, but in a surprise move the team selected Jeff Random instead and then traded him along with both of their 2010 draft picks to get superstar coyote power forward Charles Yotechuk. Not only did the move provide plenty of fuel for the tabloids but it also sparked a divisional rivalvy with the Tallahassee Typhoons who had drafted the suddenly available Klaus at #3.
Despite tearing through the 2009-2010 season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Mayors still fell short of the best overall record to their cross-conference rivals in northern California. And when the Newark Pride got their revenge in the Conference Semifinals with a 4-3 upset, the team began to spiral out of control. With his contract expiring and former teammate Julio Onca traded to the team, Yotechuk publicly announced his intentions of not re-signing with the Mayors. The coyote would end up with divisional rival Tallahassee, but not before an expensive 4-for-1 player trade filled up the Huntsville roster. Mongoste sought greener pastures with the 2010 champion Dakota Bikers, leaving only Ray Rodin with Kiko and Knutten as the only players left from the 2009 roster.
The resulting 2010-2011 season was a disaster for the club, dropping 2 out of every 3 games in the first half of the season. Management fired coach Korber and brought in Victor Ermin, the former head coach for the Tennessee Moonshiners. The staff change turned out worse for the team, going 9-and-31 in the second half of the season and missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Teamwork, Respect, and Growth
During the 2011 off-season, the team changed owners in the hopes of rebuilding the franchise into a playoffs contender once again. An investment team had named Stefan Calico as the primary owner of the club, and the feline set his sights on shaking up the league. Many analysts questioned his trade that sent bigfur Julio Onca to Albany for prankster Evan Ashton. He collected young role-players from across the conferences, from bigfur Hassan Kamal to the controversial Telki Holland and even Jim McCormick from the rival Typhoons. But with team superstar Xavier Knutten publicly declaring his refusal to extend his contract with Huntsville, Calico made a deal with Spokane to sign-and-trade the squirrel for the Rapids' franchise superstar John Stoat.
Having acquired the #1 pick from the Winnipeg Voyageurs, Calico surprised everyone by passing up the top-rated Zoie Wilds and claiming the #2 player from the draft Nina Lime. And while the team struggled in the pre-season and split their first two games, the Mayors went on an 11-game winning streak to rocket to the top of the league and hold the lead until the end of the calendar year. They would finish the remainder of the season strong, despite a few hiccups, and make it to the second round of the playoffs where the Williamsburg Minutemen would end up steamrolling them off the road to the championship.
The 2012-2013 season turned out to be a complete turnaround to the success that came from Calico's first year of ownership. Having hired local beaver Veronica West to relieve him of GM duties, Calico was then pressured into signing away his favorite player Bailey Brisbane to get the Howlers' Paul Schäfer. With an elbow injury from the 2012 playoffs still bothering the shorter canine, and sophomore Nina Lime being in-and-out of the active roster due to the flu, the Mayors dropped their first 9 games before earning a win against the Pittsburgh Keystones. Despite sinking to the bottom of the conference for the season and never getting any higher, management never wavered from their vision for the club, although Ms. West chose to resign from her position to make way for Geraldo Venarra, an Inca tern who had his own take on the owner's vision.
That vision saw the British trio of Stoat, Ambrose Slade, and D’Angelo MacQuilkin open up the 2013-2014 season slightly better than the previous year, even after trading away Nina Lime to Plymouth for an aging roleplayer. When a late-November trade sent the injured lynx to Newark for an expensive veteran, however, the team would drop the next seven games in a row and struggle for the remainder of the season. Surprisingly, their mid-season pickups did prepare them for the upcoming season, with Cloricia Teixeira coming out of the D-League in January and Wendy Brown scooped up after a controversial buyout from the Howlers. It was at this point that Calico's ownership of the team would be bought out by the investment team that had originally bankrolled him, and the feline would end up becoming the new Commissioner of the League after Sterne Davids announced his retirement.
Surprising many folks at the 2014 FBA Draft with draft-floor transactions that sent their #2 overall pick to the newly relocated Seattle Summit as well as their #3 pick of Hiroyuki Matsuura -- the #1 ranked player in the draft class -- to the Howlers for their draft pick of Baltasár Torrealba y Toboso, the club performed decently in pre-season and gave dedicated fans hope for their team. A blistering 14-1 start to the 2014-2015 season made everyone take notice, as the Mayors look for the opportunity to earn their record-breaking 10th franchise championship.
|Tales of the Huntsville Mayors|
Written by Stevie Maxwell
© Stevie Maxwell
|These stories mostly cover the 2011-12 season and Stefan Calico's rise to prominence
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