It is hard to believe that a contest to “rename” the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees would produce the nickname “Railriders” and a mascot of a Porcupine. So many possibilities and this joins the long list of names for Scranton’s minor league baseball team. My suguestion of the “Breaker Boys” was not even a finalist. I suppose it would not lend itself to a mascot or marketing, given its connection to Child labor. Wikipedia also says that Scranton had a team called the “Coalheavers”.
The team has announced that the entire staff from last year will be retained which should be a good thing. Playing all of their games on the road, the “Empire State” Yankees did what they normally do, they won their division of the International League with an 84-60 record. They then made a quick exit from the play-offs. The Scranton team had made the Play-offs 5 of the last 6 seasons. It has been the most success the Scranton team hsa had since the early years of red Sox, 1939-46.
According to the Baseball reference.com, the Scranton has had 8 different names since the first minor league franchise in 1887. That team was known as the Scranton Indians. They competed in the International League. There is no information on this team @ http://www.baseball-reference.com.
In 1888, the Scranton Miners first appeared. This team would compete in the following Leagues Central League 1888, Pennsylvania State League 1892-1893; Eastern League 1896-1897; Atlantic League 1899-1900; New York State League 1904-1917; New York-Penn League 1923-1937 and the Eastern League1939- -1953. There was no team in 1938. According to Nick Petula’s A History of Scranton Professional Baseball 1865-1953, local poitical and business leaders organized “A Save Baseball Committee”. It was successful and the Scranton Red Sox were born in 1939 and stayed until 1951. The 1952 Scranton Miners were sponsored by the St. Louis Browns. 1953’s team was sponsored by the Washington Senators. It was the last year of professional baseball in Scranon until 1989.
In 1888, Scranton joined the Central League. The team was managed by second baseman Same Crane. Also on the roster for the Scranton franchise was Jesse Burkett. Burkett was listed as a pitcher and was a 19 year old wonder winning 27 games. He also played some outfield. According to the history of Scranton Professional Baseball the Miners finished the year at 55-51. The league consisted of the following teams : Allentown Peanuts, Binghamton Crickets, Easton, Elmira, Hazelton Pugilists, Jersey City Skeeters, Newark Trunkmakers, Scranton Miners and Wilkes Barre Barons. The Newark Trunkmakers won the league with a 83-23 record.
Sam Crane later became a sportswriter for the New York Evening Journal. He was barred from the Polo Grounds in 1895 after writing an article harshly criticizing the NY Giants owner Andrew Freeman. Sam was close friends with New York Giants manager John McGraw. Sam made the front page of the Sporting Life in 1889. He was jailed for larceny. Sam left town with a married woman, Mrs. Hattie E. Fraunfelter. He was arrested in New York City. The article appeared under the title Sam Crane’s Plight “The Eloping Secondbaseman behind bars”. The husband of Hattie said Sam had stole $1500. Mrs. Fraunfelter was charged with adultery, both were later acquitted.
Also on the roster of the 1888 team was future MLB champ, Jesse Burkett. According to Wikpedia.com, Jesse Burkett won 27 in Scranton in 1888 at the age of 19. He played some outfield for Sam Crane’s team as well. Burkett was a pitcher who hurt his arm. Burkett would later find a permanent home in the outfield, playing 16 seasons (1890-1905) in the major leagues, winning three National League batting titles while hitting .400 twice (.409 in 1895 and .410 in 1896 with the Cleveland Spiders) and .376 with the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1901. Burkett is also a member of the Hall of Fame. Jesse still holds the major league record for inside the park home runs with 55. He also stole 389 bases in his career.
This was the last year of organized baseball until 1892.
During the 1892 Season the Harrisburg Ponies moved to Scranton during the season and became the Indians again. The team played in the Pennsylvania State League. The team played their games on the Island Grounds located in the flats section of South Scranton (Petula). The league in 1892 consisted of the Allentown-Bethlehem Colts, Altoona Mountainnerss, Danville, Harrisburg Ponies/Scranton Indians, Johnstown Pirates, Lebanon Pretzel Eaters, Reading Actives, Wilkes Barre Coal Barons/ Pittsburgh.
The 1893 Scranton Miners were a middle/lower end of the pack team. The Pennsylvania State League played a split league format. There was a first half and a second half champion. Scranton was 23-33, 10 games under .500 for the first half and exactly .500, 22-22 for the second half.
1900 Atlantic League Campions
New York State League Champions
Archbald “Moonlight” Graham is maybe the most famous former Scranton baseball player, thanks to field of Dreams and the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Graham played in Scranton from 1905-1908. In 1906, The Miners won 82 and lost 48, 12 games ahead of the nearest team. The movie doesn’t mention it but after Graham one brief appearance, he was sold back to the Scranton club. Minor League teams had loose agreements with the major league clubs. The system that is in place now did not exist.
New York State League Chanpions
The Scranton Miners had a full page in the season ending issue of the sporting life. The team played at Athletic Park in Scranton.
The Scranton Miners played from 1923-1937 in the NY-Penn League.
In 1923 the league consisted of the following teams: Binghamton Triplets,Elmira Red Jackets,Scranton Miners, Wilkes-Barre Barons, Williamsport Billies, York White Roses. The Miners had no affiliaiton with a major league club this year. It appears that at the time most minor leagues had loose agreements if any.
1936 New York Penn League Champions
In 1936, the Scranton Miners were the Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The NYP leagues consisted of Allentown Brooks (Brooklyn), Binghamton Triplets (NYY), Elmira Pioneers (BOS), Hazleton Mountaineers (Phil-Phillies), Scranton Miners (PIT), Wilkes-Barre Barons, Williamsport Grays (Phil-Athletics), York White Roses/Trenton Senators.
The team played at Athletic Park on Providence Road in Scranton, Pa. The classification for minor league ball in 1936 was AA (top teams) A, A1 B, C and D. THe Miners were localed owned and despite being the A designation, they were the top minor league team for the Pirates, the Pirates had no AA team. The league instituted a first half and second half champions format. The winner of the first half would play the winner of the second half in a 7 game play-off. The Miners won the first half with 42 wins and 27 loses. Elmira won the second half of the season. The Miners swept through Red Jackets and won the New York Penn League title. There was a 5-5 tie in game two, not sure how that happened. Elmer Yoder was the manager of the Miners. Joe Schaute was from Peckville, Pa. He was a standout pitcher on the team. He was left-handed and 36 years old. He won 20 games and lost 7. Joe pitched in the Big Leagues for Cleveland 1922-1930, Brooklyn 1931- 1933 and finally 1934 with Cincinatti. Joe won 20 games in 1924, his over-all record in the majors was 99-109 with a 4.09 ERA. *
*Stan Kovelski of Shamokin also pitched for the Indians in 1924. Stan would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. Famous for his spitball, Stan won over 200 games in the majors.
1946 Eastern League Champions
1946 Govenor’s Cup Champions
The 1946 Scranton Red Sox were voted the 90th best team in the history of the minor leagues by minorleaguebaseball.com. The closest team to the Red Sox in 1946’s Eastern League was the Albany Senators, a distant 18.5 games behind the Sox. The Scranton club dominated the Eastern League in the standings statistics and play-offs. Scranton swept Wilkes-Barre 4 games to none in the opening round of the playoffs. They then beat Hartford 4- 1 to win the Govenor’s Cup. Scranton was managed in 1946 by Elmer Yoter, a former third baseman who played briefly for Cleveland and the Cubs in the 1920s. He enjoyed a 40-year career in baseball, the last 20 as a manager and scout in the Boston Red Sox organization. In 1946, Yoter was named Manager of the Year.
The Scranton Red Sox of 1946 were built on pitching. Mel Parnell (1.30 )won the ERA title. Parnell’s mark is an Eastern League record that still stands, he bested Chet Covington’s of Scranton mark of 1.51 set in 1943. But the league MVP was Scranton pitcher Tom Fine, who was an incredible 23-3 in 1946.(Fine won only one game for the Boston Club in the majors). Mickey McDermott ended up the season with a 16-6 record with a 3.29 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 175 innings. On July 14, 1946, at the age of 17, McDermott threw a no-hitter against the Albany Senators, making him possibly the youngest pitcher to throw a no-hit game in the high minors. (McDermott threw three no-hitters in his minor league career.)
Scranton was led by outfielder Sam Mele who led the league in batting (.342) and triples (18), seond baseman Al Kozar, who batted .316 and first baseman Kensecke who hit .305. Part-time outfielder Al Signaigo contributed with a .313 average.
Five Red Sox players made the Eastern League All-Star team. Kensecke, Kozar, Mele and pitcher Fine were joined by catcher Tex Aulds on All-star squad.
The following players played in the major leagues from the Scranton team. They had various degrees of success:
Leslie “Tex” Aulds played in three games for the 1947 Boston Red Sox. He had a hit in four at-bats in three major-league games for a .250 average.
Sam Mele had a moderately sucessful major league career. During his playing days (1947-56), Mele saw duty with six major league clubs: the Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, batting .267 with 80 home runs in 1,046 games. His best season was his first with Boston, Mele batted .302 in 123 games, hit 12 home runs and drove in 73 runs. He also had .992 fielding percentage that year.His managerial career was more sucessfull. Mele managed the Twins from 1961 – 1967, he was fired in the middle of the 1967 season. He won the pennant in 1965, winning 102 games. The Twins had Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat, Zoilo Versalles, Rod Carew and Bob Allison under Mele. Mele’s record as a manager was 524-436 (.546). He never managed again, but returned to the Red Sox as a scout for 25 years.
Mickey McDermott played 12 seasons, including time with the Red Sox, Senators, Yankees, Athletics, Tigers and Cardinals. He was 69-69. He was compared to Lefty Grove, but an elbow injury, coupled with a hard-living lifestyle, is reported to have put a damper on his career. One of his best seasons came in 1953 when he was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA in 206.1 innings.
Mel Parnell was a stand-out left-hander at Boston’s Fenway park for many years. He was an all-star in 1949 and 1951, leading the American League in wins in 1949 with a 25-7 mark and a 2.77 era. Parnell was the winningest left-hander in Red Sox history. An injury cut his Red Sox career short. The 1949 Red Sox finished second to the Yankees.
Tommy Fine pitched for the Boston Red Sox in 1947 and the St. Louis Browns in 1950. He finished his career with a 1-3 mark, the one win coming for the Sox in 1947. Tommy did have 7 hits in 21 career at bats for a stellar .333 average.
Al Kozar never played in the majors with the Red Sox, he was traded to the Washington Senators in 1948 and played in 150 games hitting .250, his playing time diminished the next season and in 1950, he changed his Sox to White and played for Chicago.
Sam Dente played for 4 teams from 1947 to 1955, achieving some success. He played for the Red Sox, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox. He had a career .252 batting average.