Well before the Charlotte Hornets made their NBA debut in the Queen City, an earlier Hornets’ team started playing minor league baseball here in 1901. The original Charlotte Hornets played at Clark Griffith Park in Dilworth on-and-off until 1973.
Over the decades the Hornets played in several leagues including the Carolina Baseball Association, Independent Carolina League, South Atlantic League, and the Piedmont League. Notable names that played for the Charlotte Hornets included Early Wynn, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. Graham, a former star of the UNC Chapel Hill baseball team, played for the Hornets in 1902. He went on to the major leagues to play for the Giants, but never made it to bat. His story is dramatized in the movie “Field of Dreams.”
After a three-year absence, baseball returned to Charlotte in 1976 under a new name: the Charlotte Orioles, or Charlotte O’s as they were more commonly called. The O’s played in the old Griffith Park, renamed the Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Park. In 1988 the team was renamed the Charlotte Knights, and two years later was moved to Fort Mill, South Carolina.
The J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections has several collections with images and clippings that chronicle the Charlotte Hornets Baseball team. The material is located in the Charlotte Hornets Baseball Team Scrapbooks, Steve Perille Photographs, and the Mary Boyer Collection.