FORT WAYNE FIVE: Fort Wayne’s longest operated sports franchises

Komet hockey, 66 seasons and counting: From their launched in 1952, the Komets have won nine titles, but didn't start out so smooth. They posted their first win in the International Hockey League on Nov. 4, 1952, with a 6-5 victory over the Grand Rapids Rockets before 6,381 Ladies Night fans at the Memorial Coliseum. The team was still in the IHL cellar, however, with a 1-4-1 record. (News-Sentinel file photo)
TinCap/Wizard baseball, 24 seasons and counting: The Fort Wayne Wizards introduced their mascot Wayne on April 18, 1993 when a sellout crowd watched their newly minted minor league baseball team play. They have undergone a name change, becoming the TinCaps in 2009, but the franchise lives on. Prior to coming to Fort Wayne in 1993 after being sold, the franchise can be traced back to the Mattoon (Illinois) Indiana, which existed from 1947-1952. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Pistons basketball, 16 seasons: Now the NBA's Detroit Pistons, Fort Wayne's version existed from 1941-1957 in both the NBL and NBA. They won the NBL title in 1944 and 1945. After being the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons until 1948, they became just the Fort Wayne Pistons until their move to Detroit. They lost in the NBA finals in both 1955 and 1956. In 1952 (pictured), The Zollner Pistons edged the Boston Celtics 94-90 on Feb. 14 when they played at North Side High School's gym. It was a hotly contested game, in which officials called 71 fouls, including two technicals. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Pistons softball, 15 seasons: The Zollner Pistons professional softball (later called fastball) team dominated its sport so well that it ran its opponents out of business during its 1940 to 1954 lifespan. The Pistons moved from their first field at Municipal Beach to the stadium on North Anthony Boulevard, built in 1947 that is now known as Zollner Stadium, home to Concordia Lutheran High School teams. Pictured is the plaque on one of three softball trophies found at the Zollner Pistons plant in 2014. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Derby girls, 12 seasons and counting: Established in 2005 by Danielle Nicolette (Abbott), right, and Tonya Vogtkofsky, left, the Fort Wayne Derby Girls have ranked as high as sixth in the North Central Region (in 2008). (News-Sentinel file photo)

Fort Wayne has long been known as a big location of sporting times not quite among the elite leagues. In 2007, the city was rated the “Best Place in the Country for Minor League Sports” in an issue of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. For every Komet or Mad Ants franchise, there have been indoor soccer teams like the Flames or semi-professional football teams like the River City Rhinos. Here are the five longest operating sports franchises, minor league or in a rare cases, otherwise.