The South Carolina Strom Thurmonds are a fictional franchise in the OTBA. They were one of the founding members of the league, which began in 2004 (game date). They have five postseason appearances and one World Championship.
In late 2003, just months after Senator Strom Thurmond died at the age of 100, his estate acquired a franchise in the new OTBA. The late Senator’s conservative politics made it an easy choice for OTBA founder and first commissioner, Dale and Eli’s Dad, to quickly approve the franchise. In searching for just the right nickname to truly represent the state of South Carolina, it was decided that there was only one outcome: keep alive the dreams of the grand old man of the Senate and name the team after Strom Thurmond.
The next step was to acquire a GM that was creative enough get the franchise off the ground, yet inept enough to keep the team from contending (thus, constantly keeping fan expectations low). That GM was found in Bob Buttons. In his 29th season as GM, he has seamlessly tightroped the line between incompetence and mediocrity.
2004-2010: Building a WinnerEdit
In their inaugural season in Strom Thurmond Memorial Stadium located in beautiful downtown Greenville, South Carolina, the Strom Thurmonds struggled to just a 59 win season, 33 games behind the division winner. It took a number of lean years before some draft picks would begin to stake their claim to southern glory.
After 7 years of finishing last or next to last in the division, 2011 marked the first time South Carolina found themselves in a pennant race. Several of their earlier draft picks were finally coming around. The pitching staff was led by George Hawkes, a 2nd round pick in 2006, and Cyril Ickes, a 2nd round pick from 2005. The offense was paced by two young sluggers and future Hall of Famers, Ward Matthews was a prospect from the inaugural draft and Samuel Rocha was the top pick in 2008. This core drove the Strom Thurmonds to 96 wins, just missing out of the postseason by 2 games.
2011-2018: The Pennant Chasing YearsEdit
After an abysmal and strange 53 win year the next season, South Carolina would come back with 91 wins in 2013 and 104 wins in 2015. The 2010s were the era of the big stick for the Strom Thurmonds. Whether their pitching staff was good enough to get by or not, the offense was among the tops in the league year in and year out. The 104 win season of 2015, led by Matthews’ 28 home runs and 107 runs batted in and 21 and 19 game winners Bradley Mito and George Hawks, respectively, marked the first venture into the postseason for South Carolina.
Though they got bounced in the first round, the Strom Thurmonds gained valuable experience that would pay dividends down the road. After a couple of seasons missing the playoffs, South Carolina was back in 2017. Their offense was hard to match, averaging over 6 runs a game, hitting 220 homeruns and batting a robust .303. Samuel Rocha had one of the greatest seasons in league history, with a .331 average, 41 home runs and 151 runs batted in. In addition to Rocha, Manny Nattes, Keith Marshall, Daniel Leffler, Lee Larson and Ward Matthews all hit 21 or more home runs. Rocha won the Hank Aaron award for that huge season, but if it weren’t for Rocha, Lee Larson could have won the award himself. His numbers were impressive in their own right, batting .302 with 34 home runs and 128 runs batted in.
With that bad taste still in their mouth from a few seasons before, the Strom Thurmonds gutted out a tough 5 game series against Sioux Falls, then a tough 6 game series against perennial powerhouse New Jersey. They carried that momentum into a 5 game series win against London, marking the first, and to this day, only, OTBA title. The lead directly to the The Great Archive Fire of 2017.
2019-2029: The Draft Bust YearsEdit
The next season would find South Carolina back in the postseason and once again facing New Jersey. This time, New Jersey got the better of them, 3 games to 2. It would mark the start of a 4 year stretch of Octobers off for the Strom Thurmonds. It also marked a number of years of first round draft busts that set back the organization quite a bit. 2019’s top pick of the team, Mal Curry, never had an OTBA at bat and after a number of unproductive years in the minors, he hung up his cleats.
In 2021, South Carolina traded up with Fort Collins to acquire both the 7th and 8th picks of the first round. They used those picks to draft two potential aces, Fransicso Lopez and Mark Cox. Unfortunately, Lopez never pitched a big league game and Cox, after showing some early promise including a 16 win season in 2025, seemed to lose it after that, bouncing back and forth for the next several seasons between AAA and the big club, between the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Of the first and second round selections from those eleven years, only 6 players made significant contributions at the big league level: John Moon (2nd round, 2020), Ed Fields (1st round, 2022), Ed McGrath (1st round, 2023), Wade Davis (2nd round, 2023), Greg Crawford (1st round, 2026) and Mario Campos (1st round, 2028). Only time will tell if recent draft picks will pan out and help lead this team back to another title. It could be up to one of the best front 2 starters of any team’s rotation in the league: Ed McGrath and Mario Campos.
Strom Thurmond Memorial ParkEdit
The Strom Thurmonds play their home games in Strom Thurmond Memorial Park, in Greenville, South Carolina. The park seats 47,500 and is distinctive for it's 25 foot Wall of Segregation in right field, so named that it segregates home runs from mere doubles and triples.