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.
Three Major League teams didn’t want Shane Victorino. But when the Phillies were finally stuck with the speedy outfielder, they were glad they did.
After the Los Angeles Dodgers exposed him to the Rule V Draft and he was picked by the Padres in 2002. Shortly after that, he returned to the Dodgers and spent two more seasons in the Dodgers farm system before being picked by Philadelphia in the 2004 Rule V Draft. When he didn’t make the Phillies out of spring training in 2005, he was offered back to the Dodgers. But Los Angeles declined and Victorino wound up with the Red Barons.
All he did there was become the first player in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre history to win the International League MVP. It was quite a memorable season for the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” as he led the league in triples (16), was second in runs (93), total bases (264), sixth in batting average (.310), fifth in extra-base hits (59) and slugging percentage (.534), while clubbing 18 home runs, stealing 17 bases, knocking in 70 runs and posting an on base percentage of .377.
He did most of his hard work in the second half of the season as he wasn’t even named to the mid-season All-Star team. Twice Victorino was named I.L. Player of the Week, both occurring in a three-week span from July 25-31 and Aug. 8-14.
Victorino ended the season on a 22-game hitting streak before earning a call-up to Philadelphia, where he stayed in the Phillies lineup for the next seven seasons, but still became just the second member of a last-place team to capture IL MVP honors. The only other one was Toledo’s Joe Lis in 1986.
“I’ve never been named to any all-star team or post all-star team or any (special award). I’m very excited,” Victorino said after hearing of the news on Aug. 30, 2005. “It’s an accomplishment for me. It’s a pretty big moment for me winning something like this.”
The switch-hitting outfielder batted leadoff for the Red Barons team that finished 69-75 that year, but he had his best minor league season and continued that into sustained success in the Major Leagues with Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Boston. A two-time World Series champion, Victorino is currently in the outfield for the Red Sox and is on the disabled list.