Sunday, July 13, 2014

Number one in the heart of SWB’s past

RailRiders reaffirm nobody will ever wear Greg Legg’s No. 14 again.

April 07. 2013 12:31AM

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MOOSIC - When he first arrived at the park now known as the new PNC Field during the inaugural season of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, Greg Legg came in wearing number 11.

By the time he left, he made the number 14 so famous in franchise history, no Scranton/Wilkes-Barre player will ever wear it again.

That he wound up with the number 14 on his back was no accident.

That’s the jersey Tommy Barrett wore for the Red Batrons when minor league baseball returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania in 1989. He was the best player on that downtrodden team, a former major leaguer who stole 46 bases while playing a solid second base for the Red Barons during their debut season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The next season, he was gone from the game.

“His daughter got real sick and he left,” Legg said. “The first year I was number 11. The next year, I took his number.

“I wore it to honor a teammate.”

That compassion and concern typified Legg, who spent six of his 13 minor league seasons playing for the Red Barons.

Maybe that’s why the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders retired Legg’s No. 14 for a second time Saturday and hung it on the wall of their remodeled park.

The fans who stood in long lines before and during the RailRiders game on Greg Legg Bobblehead Night remembered Legg not so much as the player who hit .409 for the Philadelphia Phillies during parts of the 1986 and ‘87 seasons, or even as they guy who batted .290 or better during three of his six seasons playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

They remembered an approachable, cordial, welcoming person who just happened to be a pretty good baseball player.

“Just an all-around good guy,” said Michelle Tavaglione, snagged Legg’s autograph after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

“He’s so humble and outgoing,” said Joan Super, who worked at the original facility when it was called Lacakawanna County Stadium in 1989.

That personality, along with Legg’s passion for the game, made him one of the most revered icons to come out of the dugout wearning a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre uniform.

Think not?

There was an old story about one Red Barons fans who was hit in the head by an errant throw from Legg during pregame warmups, and when Legg went to apoligize, the fan thanked him for the honor of being hit by a throw from him.

Then there’s the more verifiable tale of a fan named Jim Burden who claims to have caught the first foul ball Legg ever hit while batting for the Red Barons, and kept it displayed at his home ever since.

“He was always great to the fans,” said Burden, from Wilkes-Barre. “He never refused an autograph. He treated the fans very respectfully. And he never forgot his roots.

“He kept coming back.”

Legg came back once more, pulled away from his job as a hitting instructor in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system to be honored by the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

The parent teams and the design of the old place he once called home in Moosic may have changed.

Legg’s outlook and attitude have not.

“It’s an honor,” Legg said of the night. “I think the fans, the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania, got this going and the RailRiders and (team general manager) Rob Crain were kind enough to put this on. We’re fortunate.”

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