Saturday, April 26, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2643, April 26th, 2014


Twenty five years ago minor league baseball returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania. After a long struggle to get a major league team and a stadium built, baseball returned with a spanking new ball field as well as a Triple A franchise for the Philadelphia Phillies. Phillies official Bill Giles, later to be National League President called the Multipurpose Stadium on Montage Mountain one of the best minor league ball parks in America.
The Red Barons, a name culled from the old Scranton Red Sox and the old Wilkes Barre Barons (minor league mainstays in the 40s and 50s) lost to the Tidewater Tides (a Mets minor league franchise) that first night. But nothing took the bloom off that rose.
Through the years local baseball fans were treated to seeing the “future stars of tomorrow” like Mo Vaughan, Derek Jeter, and others too numerous to mention. Along the way fans saw major league players on rehab like Darryl Strawberry, Curt Schilling, the aforementioned Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
The fight to get Major League baseball here was a ongoing since 1977 when Attorney John McGee started pitching the idea. There was opposition by those saying no one would ever go to games and support the team because we are after all an economically depressed area. But McGee stayed on course and the Lackawanna County Commissioners, Joe Corcoran and Ray Alberigi found a way. Then Luzerne County Commissioner Frank Trinisewski persuaded the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners to kick in a million dollars and baseball became a reality. Now most of the building responsibility landed in the lap of Lackawanna County but it seemed to me that was the way they wanted it. 

Lackawanna County Stadium before the renovation. (  
 One of the on going promotions through the years was bobblehead night. Here's a replica of a Gavin Flloyd bobblehead. (Photo Ebay).  
Today marks 25 years of that very first game. The venture that was supposed to fail has had two major league franchise, two stadiums and three name changes. Bringing baseball to Northeastern Pennsylvania was one of those quality of life endeavors that politicians and government leaders are supposed to do. It took guts, energy and leadership. It got done. Even though at the time the people trying to bring baseball here had to do it with one hand behind their back fighting off the naysayers.
As I drive by the Stadium, I think of growing up and hearing about Triple A cities like Trenton and Binghamton. I think back to playing some form of baseball as a youth and thinking how far away those places seemed to be at the time. Every year I take a group of friends to a game and sit and marvel at the sight. Twenty five years of memories in that ballpark. Thanks to all who made it possible.
All that said, on to another 25.


At 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He got dealt out and I dont know too much about the man, but thank John McGee. I still like the name RED BARONS best.



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