History was made on Tuesday, May 4, 1948, when the Mustangs and Salt Lake City Bees played the first game of organized professional baseball ever to be staged in Billings. Billings Mayor H.E. Biddinger threw out the ceremonial first pitch in front of 3,280 fans who braved near freezing temperatures. Gene Brocker’s long double in the ninth inning scored Kenny Jensen from first base, providing the visitors from Salt Lake City with a narrow, 3-2, victory and spoiling the Mustangs home opener.
The Mustangs finished that inaugural season in last place. But the next season they finished second and made the playoffs. In 1964, the league was downgraded to short-season rookie league status and Billings dropped out of the Pioneer League. The Mustangs returned to the league in 1969 and won back-to-back championships in 1972 and ’73. In all, the Mustangs have won 15 Pioneer League titles, more than any other team in the Pioneer League. The last championship came in 2014, with field manager Dick Schofield leading the club.
The 2016 season will mark the 43th consecutive year the Mustangs have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds, one of the longest running player development relationships in professional baseball. As Cincinnati starts the 2016 season, six former Mustangs are on the Reds’ Current roster: Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Tucker Barnhart, Tony Cingrani, Robert Stephenson, & Billy Hamilton.