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These are the 5 best teams to play at Cashman Field in Las Vegas

Updated March 31, 2018 - 6:01 pm

Editor’s note: This is the first in a monthly series that looks at some of the best and most memorable baseball teams and characters to call Cashman Field home.

The countdown to Las Vegas Ballpark is underway as the 51s open their 36th and final season at Cashman Field on Thursday.

With construction expected to be completed for the start of the 2019 season, the 51s will begin play at the new ballpark in Summerlin. Between now and then, the Review-Journal will look back at the history of Cashman Field, starting with five of the best teams to call it home.

Prospects from the Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Mets, including future Hall of Famers and All-Stars, have played at Cashman Field.

The franchise also boasts 10 playoff teams. Six of them came within the first 10 years when the team was called the Stars, and two won Pacific Coast League titles. The franchise first made the playoffs in 1983 and last in 2014.

Here’s a look at five of the best groups to play at Cashman:

1983 Stars (San Diego Padres)

The Stars went 83-60 in their first season and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn played 17 games for that team, as did current San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Kevin McReynolds was the star that season, earning Pacific Coast League MVP honors after hitting .377 with 32 home runs and 116 RBIs.

“The 1983 team to me was the best team they ever had here,” longtime media relations manager Jim Gemma said. “Just who they had on the roster, because back then there wasn’t a lot of call-ups like you have now where guys, lack of a better word, guys are getting rushed up now. … The game’s changed, but the roster was an incredible roster.”

1986 Stars (San Diego Padres)

This Stars team was the first to win a PCL title.

The team went 80-62, and almost every player on the roster made the majors.

“We had guys that went on to have really good careers. Larry Bowa was the manager,” team president Don Logan said. “He was just an intense guy pushing the buttons. Every game mattered to him, and they played that way.”

1988 Stars (San Diego Padres)

The Stars won the PCL championship again two years later with a team that finished 74-66.

“It was the last championship team, which is pretty scary,” Logan said.

That team was led by brothers Sandy Alomar Jr. and Roberto Alomar, Joey Cora and Bip Roberts. Alomar Jr. was named the PCL’s MVP in 1988 and 1989.

2002 51s (Los Angeles Dodgers)

This team has the distinction of having the highest winning percentage among 51s/Stars teams at .580.

The Dodgers affiliate went 85-59, breaking the record set by the 1983 Stars.

”First of all, we had one of the best managers we’ve ever had in Las Vegas that year, and that was Brad Mills,” longtime radio announcer Russ Langer said. “One of the best forces on that team, Joe Thurston, a second baseman, set the franchise record for base hits, hit well over .300.”

Thurston hit .334 with 196 hits in 136 games.

2014 51s (New York Mets)

The 2013 and 2014 teams made the playoffs and featured many players who comprise the core of the current Mets.

Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler pitched for the 51s in 2013, and deGrom and Noah Syndergaard spent time on the 2014 team. The 2014 team was in first place for the entire season, which gives them a slight edge over the 2013 club.

“They both had the same exact record (81-63). It was the pitchers we had,” general manager Chuck Johnson said. “It was just right there, right in the heart of all these current Mets guys that are currently playing.”

More 51s: Follow all of our Las Vegas 51s coverage online at reviewjournal.com/51s and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Other teams receiving votes: 1984, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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