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.
Alex Rodriguez is a controversial athlete for many reasons. He was not controversial when he spent a total of five days with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise on rehab assignments in two different seasons.
His first stint with the club came in 2011 when nearly 20,000 fans saw A-Rod play two games for the SWB Yankees. On Aug. 16-17 of that year, he combined to go 2 for 5 with one RBI and two walks. But the most interest thing he did while at PNC Field those days came when he made an error on a ball hit by a current RailRider, Hazleton native Russ Canzler. When the ball was misplayed by Rodriguez, the 10,408 fans in attendance sounded off a rousing chorus of boos. That also marked the last big crowd at the stadium before the team played the next season on the road and PNC Field was reconstructed. The first game he played, 9,328 fans packed the Moosic ballpark to watch Rodriguez.
When the newly-renovated stadium opened in 2013, A-Rod made another appearance, this time in the middle of July right after the All-Star break. He was expected to play in four games this time around. He made a grand entrance in the first game after flying out to deep right in his first at-bat by clubbing a two-run homer in his second to delight the 8,256 fans in attendance. He planted a 1-2 fastball from Louisville pitcher Chad Reineke onto the lawn in right-center. Rodriguez finished his rehab assignment with SWB going 3 for 12. He only saw action in three contests and his stay ended when he left town due to a sore left quad. Still, more than an average of 8,000 fans watched the star prepare for New York in the three games. There was also controversy with the slugger last year due to a looming suspension.
Rodriguez spent the full 20 days on his minor league assignment in 2013 and said he was humbled during that time.
“These 20 days, I feel so fortunate to be a part of it,” he said last year. “I make it a point every time I leave one of the teams to go in the manager’s office and thank him for being on their team and putting me in their lineup — and to bring this little mini circus to their city.”
A-Rod is currently sitting out the 2014 baseball season due to a season-long suspension for violating the Major League Baseball Performance Enhancing Drug policy.