The Greenville Drive is a minor league baseball team that plays in Greenville, South Carolina. They are a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and a member of the South Atlantic League. Prior to the 2005 SAL season, the team played in Columbia, South Carolina, was affiliated with the New York Mets from 1983 to 1992, and was known as the Capital City Bombers. Their mascot is a frog named Reedy Rip'it.
The Drive began their history in 1977 in Shelby, North Carolina, as the Shelby Reds. In 1983, the team moved to Columbia, which had lacked a minor league team since the departure of the Columbia Reds in 1961. The team was originally known as the Columbia Mets and made their home at Capital City Stadium. In 1993, the team changed its name to the Bombers to honor members of the Doolittle Raiders, who had conducted their initial training in Columbia. The Bombers won the South Atlantic League championship in 1986, 1991, and 1998.
Following the 2004 season, the Bombers changed affiliations and became the affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, who had previously been affiliated with the Augusta GreenJackets, also of the South Atlantic League. On February 11, 2005, Minor League Baseball announced that the Bombers had been granted permission to move to Greenville, where a new park opened in 2006. The Bombers would play in Greenville Municipal Stadium in 2005.
On October 27, 2005, the Bombers announced the team's name would change to the Drive. The name was chosen due to the presence of BMW US Manufacturing and Michelin in the area and, more generally, due to Greenville's rich automotive past. An alternative name was chosen after Shoeless Joe Jackson called the Joes but Major League Baseball vetoed the name due to his role in the Black Sox Scandal in 1919.
In 2008, outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin became the first Drive player to be selected to the annual All-Star Futures Game, which took place on July 13 at Yankee Stadium. Lin hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw that helped the World team beat the US Team, 3–0. He finished 2-for-2 and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Former pitcher Clay Buchholz participated in the 2007 edition, a season after playing for the Drive.
In 2009, Ryan Lavarnway played for the Drive, hitting 21 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage (both tops for Red Sox minor leaguers) and 87 RBIs in 404 at bats.
On May 8, 2012 Greenville made history as three pitchers combined to toss the club's first ever no-hitter. Miguel Pena (six innings), Hunter Cervenka (two) and Tyler Lockwood (one) joined forces to defeat the Rome Braves (Atlanta), 1–0. A solo home run by Keury De La Cruz off David Filak in the sixth inning counted for the only run of the game.
Capital City Stadium in downtown Columbia, was the home of the Bombers. The stadium was originally built in 1927, but was completely rebuilt in 1991. Capital City Stadium has a seating capacity for 6,000 spectators, has a grass surface and features the following fence dimensions: (LF) 330 ft., CF 400 ft., RF 320 ft.
The stadium often proved inadequate for baseball due to poor field conditions. Situated in a low-lying area, Capital City Stadium features poor drainage and heavy rains often resulted in a flooded infield.
The Bombers had sought assistance from the City of Columbia in building a new stadium located in the Congaree Vista area of Columbia. Efforts to construct a stadium to be shared with the University of South Carolina's baseball team fell through when the University demanded the Bombers pay $6 million in fees upfront. Following this, Bombers owner Rich Mozingo sought to relocate the team.
Mozingo's efforts paid off when, in 2005, the Bombers relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, (see above). Following the move, the Bombers played their home contests in Greenville Municipal Stadium in Greenville, then moved to Fluor Field at the West End, in the heart of downtown Greenville. The stadium was named "Ballpark of the Year" for the 2006 season by Baseballparks.com, beating out such stadiums as St. Louis's Busch Stadium and Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College, Pa.
The stadium shares the dimensions of their parent club's major league park, Fenway Park, and boasts its own "Green Monster" complete with manual scoreboard and "Pesky's Pole" in right field.
What follows are records of the Columbia Mets, Greenville Bombers, and Greenville Drive for each season.
In the second season of the Netflix series House of Cards, Frank Underwood describes an embarrassing episode in his life where he threw out the first pitch at a Greenville Drive game.