MOOSIC — Jeremy Ruby remembers the day like it just happened. Playing as a high school senior in a District 2 championship baseball game at PNC Field — which was then known as Lackawanna County Stadium — and hitting a home run to lead Valley View to the championship.
“I’ll tell you what, I still remember that plain as day. It was like it happened last week,” said Ruby, the 36-year old Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders executive vice president of operations and a 1994 Valley View graduate.
Once again, current high school athletes will be able to create similar unforgettable moments.
For the first time since 2011, the District 2 baseball championships will be held at PNC Field on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon inside the ballpark’s Mohegan Sun Club with RailRiders president and general manager Rob Crain and D2 chairman Frank Majikes making the joint announcement as every electronic board in the stadium read signs of “Welcome PIAA District II.”
“I know when each and everyone of these kids is participating in this tournament on May 27 I know for a fact they will never forget this experience,” Ruby said. “And to me that’s more gratifying than anything. Because I know it will stick with them for their lifetime.”
The district championship games were once a staple at PNC Field, being held there for more than a decade prior to the New York Yankees organization taking over the Minor League Baseball franchise.
In 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012, the games were held held at smaller neutral sites. Last season Wyoming Valley West won the 4A title at King’s College’s Betzler Complex and Holy Redeemer captured the 2A crown at Battaglia Field in Scranton.
Now, under new management, an agreement was worked out for the contests to return to PNC Field.
“This is a great experience for our student-athletes and that’s certainly not a slap to all the schools who have been good to us, the colleges over the years that have allowed us to host finals,” District 2 Chairperson Frank Majikes said. “But this is gorgeous, and I think it’s just a great opportunity these kids will never have again at a venue that’s offered here.
“Our hats off to the Yankee organization and Mr. Crain and Mr. Ruby for a great collaboration on everybody’s part.”
The title games in all four classifications, A through 4A, will be held in Moosic with the format mimicking the same as the PIAA Championship schedule with the Class A game starting the action at 10 a.m. The 2A game is slated for 1 p.m. with 3A following at 4 p.m. and the Class 4A contest closing out the action at 7 p.m.
In the event of inclement weather on that day, doubleheaders will be held on May 28 and 29 at PNC Field.
Prior to the Yankees taking over the organization, PNC Field was once the place to be hosting high school baseball and football games, a few concerts and even an ice skating rink. Those things changed, but the new front office members spearheaded by Crain, Ruby and vice president of stadium operations Curt Camoni helped the high school announcement and are trying to be a bigger part of the community than the past regime.
In February, the RailRiders also announced that the NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional college baseball tournament will be held at PNC Field and hosted by Misericordia from May 14-19. With the addition of high school and college games to RailRiders games, the stadium will host nearly 100 events this year.
“I’m always open-minded and we’re looking forward to be able to do other events we haven’t even thought about yet,” Crain said. “Those will happen sometime down the road, but I think we got our hands full with college games and high school games and Triple-A games.”