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.
John McGee was trying to get pro baseball back in NEPA since 1978. But it was a long process, and it wasn’t until 1984 that Northeastern Baseball Inc. — a non-profit organization to bring baseball back to the area for the first time in nearly 30 years — was formed and the project took a leap.
McGee and his partners then had to convince fans to buy season tickets for a team that didn’t exist. Finally in 1987, construction was started on the new baseball stadium to be built in Moosic off Interstate 81.
Of course, there were plenty of other monumental occasions for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise to follow in the next two years, but in April of 1989, the Red Barons were ready to step on the field as the Phillies Triple-A franchise for the first time.
On the field, SWB wasn’t very good, as it looked like a real expansion team at times and finished with a 64-79 record. In one game, the Red Barons allowed 26 runs to Pawtucket, which still stands as the most an opponent has ever scored in a game against the franchise.
In the stands though, baseball was well-appreciated by the fans as the team averaged 7,807 fans per game, the sixth-highest average number in the franchise’s history; and that was while playing on just 57 home dates, the lowest in club history.
But none of that mattered because baseball was back in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The 1989 season also introduced fans to Greg Legg, who would eventually be the only member of all three teams to have his number retired for the franchise. Earlier this season, RailRiders manager Dave Miley joined Legg by having his number retired as well when he was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in June.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Franchise Firsts
Game: April 6, 1989 at Rochester
At bat: Kevin Bootay, April 6, 1989
Hit: Ron Salcedo, April 6, 1989
Run scored: Matt Cimo, April 6, 1989
RBI: Tommy Barrett, April 6, 1989
Double: Greg Legg, April 7, 1989
Triple: Steve Stanicek, April 8, 1989
HR: Al Pardo, April 14, 1989
Grand slam: Keith Miller, April 19, 1989
Walk: Kevin Bootay, April 6, 1989
Strikeout: Tommy Barrett, April 6, 1989
Stolen base: Kevin Bootay, April 6, 1989
Caught stealing: Matt Cimo, April 6, 1989
Hit by pitch: Al Pardo, April 6, 1989
Error: Gordon Dillard, April 6, 1989
Win: at Rochester, April 14, 1989
Loss: at Rochester, April 6, 1989