Rockwell Porter

Rockwell O. Porter was born on June 25, 1947, in Belcher, MA. He was the second of nine children to Orin and Sarah Porter.

Being the oldest boy in such a large, poor family instilled a great sense of responsibility, loyalty, and protectiveness in the young Porter. While he was always fond of a good fight, when any of his siblings or friends were threatened, he reacted in such an explosively angry way, it would often land him in trouble with authorities. Many claim it was this loyalty taken to extremes that would eventually see him banned from Major League Baseball.

His family’s move to Worcester at the age of thirteen provided Porter with his first opportunity to play organized baseball. His high school coach quickly discovered that Porter not only had unusual power at the plate for someone so young, but he also had a real head for the game. By his senior year he was the captain and de facto assistant coach of the team.

He was signed after high school by Ephe Hanks, manager of the (original) Utah Arches' minor league team, the Manchester Sainted. It was during his tenure on the Sainted that he met the man who would become his lifelong friend, Bill Hickman. Porter and Hickman were a dangerous combination both on and off the field. Fortunately for them both, it was no accident that they had been signed by Hanks. His alcoholism and debauchery were legendary, and he was known to often be the one finishing the fights that his two star players started. Hanks was also the one who gave Porter his nickname "Son of Thunder." He claimed it sounded like thunder when Porter truly connected with the ball. It was toward the end of Porter’s second year with the Sainted when he got the call to join their Major League affiliate.

Many years later, long after Hanks was six feet in the ground, Porter found himself in a controversy that shadows him to this day. It was during Porter’s thirteenth year on the Arches when Bill Hickman (having been traded several years previously) was beaned in the head by opposing pitcher Lilburn Boggs, who had already given up two homeruns to Hickman earlier in the game. The pitch nearly killed Hickman, and after being released from the hospital, he was plagued by headaches and dizziness that left him effectively unable to play at a major league level. Hickman retired at the end of the season.

Two weeks after the incident, Boggs disappeared without a trace. There was enough evidence pointing to Porter as being involved that he was arrested and charged with murder. Ultimately the jury found the District Attorney's case unconvincing and too circumstantial, especially with the absence of a body, and Porter was acquitted.

Major League Baseball was not as generous in their judgment, and after much debate, Porter was thrown out of the league for life.

Five years later the Arches made their move to another state, changing their name, and Porter was thus even farther removed from the game he loved.

However, he decided to stay in his adopted state of Utah, having become enamored of the majestic mountains and beautiful national parks (not to mention Utah's love of guns, which Porter was extraordinarily proficient with). He eventually became a successful photographer and professional guide of this varied landscape.

It was during one particular sojourn in the Utah desert that he came across a couple of weathered-looking individuals who were binging on alcohol and drugs, shooting .45s at anything that moved, and several things that didn’t. This chance meeting would again radically change Porter’s life, and eventually bring him back into baseball. For these two rowdies were none other than the infamous Sam Clemens and Raoul Duke. Porter managed to get them both out of the desert alive, and relatively unharmed, and the three eventually became friends after discovering how much they had in common in the world of baseball.

When Clemens began to set up the Wild West Baseball League, Porter was one of the people he immediately thought of to help get the new league running. Originally attempting to have Ann McGrath finance a team for his friend, he eventually landed on her son, Dave Williams, to handle the onerous undertaking of ownership.

Porter had no desire to leave Utah, and Williams was coincidentally a native of Salt Lake, so it was quickly agreed upon that the new club would be based out of the state’s capital. When it came to naming the team, Porter made the first of many demands: the team would be named the Arches, after his beloved old club.

When setting up the franchise's minor league team, the Lightning (now the Destroying Angels), he named his old friend Wild Bill Hickman as manager, and once again the two friends were doing what they loved most.

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