The San Francisco Mission Reds existed from 1926-1937. Representing the city’s Mission District, they played in the shadows of the San Francisco Seals and the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. This is their story.
The Mission Reds
The original Mission Reds began when the Sacramento Solons moved to San Francisco in 1915. They called themselves “the Mission” after the city’s Mission District but their old nickname, the Wolves, followed them the rest of the year. Playing their home games at both Ewing Field in San Francisco and Oaks Park in Oakland, they were a team without a home to call their own. Though rumors grew about them moving to Recreation Park, the Mission moved to Salt Lake Utah at the conclusion of the season. The Mission would cease to exist until midway through the following decade.
The second variation of the Mission Reds began in 1909 when the Vernon Tigers were born in Los Angeles. After winning two PCL championships in 18 years, declining attendance began to affect their bottom line. In 1925, team owner Edward Maier sold the club to a group of San Francisco businessmen led by Herbert Fleishhacker.
During their first four years in San Francisco, the team played in Recreation Park. Known as the Mission Bells in their first two years, the team finished in third and seventh place during that time. By 1928, they were renamed the Mission Reds and finished with a 99-92 record that first year.
In 1929, they finished first in their division but lost in the league championship to the Hollywood Stars in six games. Bert Cole led the team with 24 wins and Herman Pillette followed with 23 of his own. Three others finished with more than 10 wins: Merton Nelson (17), Dutch Ruether (14), Herb McQuaid (12) and Bill Hubbell (11). The team was sensational at the plate, with Ike Boone having a tremendous year, slamming 55 home runs, batting .407 and hitting 218 RBI. Irvin Hufft followed Boone with 39 home runs of his own. It was the Mission Reds last great chance at winning a championship.
The following year they suffered their first losing season as the Mission Reds with George Burns and Joe Devine splitting time as the club’s manager. They moved to Seals Stadium in 1931 in hopes that their fortunes would change. Unfortunately, the losing continued as they went 71-117 in 1932, the worst in team history. In 1933, Fred Hofmann was their manager and led them to a slightly better 79-108. However, he was not with the team to see his work pay off in 1934 when he was fired following the 1933 season.
Gabby Street took over in 1934 and led the club to a 101-85 record and a second place finish. The next two years, the Mission Reds finished with a .500 record as Street left the team and Willie Kamm took over as their manager for their final two years in San Francisco. The 1937 season was their last in the City by the Bay and they finished with a 73-105 record.
In their final year, five of their players won 11 or more games and none won more than 12. Johnny Babich led the club with a 4.64 ERA and Max West led the team with 16 home runs and a .330 batting average. When the season concluded, the Mission Reds moved back to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hollywood Stars, after a recently departed team of the same name.