Twenty-five years ago, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons stepped on the field for the first time. In honor of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise’s 25th year anniversary, The Times Leader is counting down the Top 25 memorable moments in its history every week until the end of the season. All three teams — Red Barons, Yankees and RailRiders — are represented on the list as put together by the staff of The Times Leader. There’s sure to be some debate here as well, which makes it that much more fun.
Jimmy Rollins has made a career out of proving people wrong when they count out his team.
Long before the Philadelphia shortstop was helping the Phillies win many games and division titles, he showed a never-give-up attitude in a Red Barons’ uniform.
On Aug. 23, 2000, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Amaury Telemaco allowed eight runs in the first inning and only got two outs before being pulled from the game. But the Barons, led by Rollins, pulled out an improbable 10-9 victory over Buffalo that night.
Rollins hit a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth and hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh, while the Red Barons bullpen shut down the Bisons after Telemaco was lifted.
“When we got behind 8-0, the mood in the dugout was quiet, but we never thought about giving up,” Rollins said at the time. “I think we all knew we had to really get focused and get back in the game.”
SWB put up two runs in the bottom of the first, but Buffalo added one more in the fifth to extend its lead to 9-2. A seven-run fifth by the Red Barons equaled the score at 9 apiece. Cesar King and Reggie Taylor had run-scoring singles in the frame, while Gary Bennett was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded immediately before Rollins’ first professional grand slam.
Perhaps more importantly in the game was that the win gave SWB much-needed confidence against the Bisons. The teams squared off in the first round of the playoffs and the Barons won the series in four games to advance to the Governors’ Cup finals, where they lost to Indianapolis in five games.
Former SWB Yankee Russell Branyan was a big part of the Bisons’ first-inning, hitting a grand slam for Buffalo.