1902 Scranton Miners – The Short life of the Pennsylvania State League

Night Baseball in Scranton, Pa.



Al Lawson

The Pennsylvania State League was organized in January of 1902. There was no minor league team in Scranton, Pa. in 1901.  Al Lawson was the manager/owner of the Scranton franchise.  The secretary of the team was Frank B. Resse.  It was a 6 team league: The teams included Lancaster, Lebanon,  Reading, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport. There is little information in basebalreference.com about the 1902 PSL.

A February 6, 1902 Scranton Tribune article detailed A.W. Lawson’s career. He was born in London, England. He had been a pitcher for several teams including the Boston Beaneaters (1890) and  Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1890).  Alfred William Lawson never won a major league game. His career totals were 0-3 with a 6.63 ERA .He had been the manager of Easton the prior year.  He pitched several years in the minor leagues with mixed success. (Scranton Tribune February 6, 1902)

Al was a relentless self promoter.  He was always full of money making schemes and electric lights for night baseball was one of his innovations. ( See below) For more information on Al Lawson and his brother, check out  Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines: The Many Lives and Outrageous Times of George and Alfred Lawson  bu Jeffery Kuntz. 

Dan B. Sullivan of Portland was reported in February Sporting Life as the first player signed by Scranton. Frank Quigley of Chicago was reported as signed as well.  Roger Gorton and William Blakely were signed as well (Sporting Life Feb 8 ,1902)

The nicknames of the teams were as follows : (March 30,1902 Reading Eagle)

Reading Brewers

Lancaster Stogies

Lebanon Iron Puddlers

Williamsport Boomers

Scranton Miners

Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons

Al Lawson was to lease the ball field. It was known as Athletic Park and it was located on Providence Road. The uniforms of the Scrantons have arrived and are on display at Florey and Brooks. (April 19th Sporting Life)  The uniform colors were maroon and Yale Grey.

A parade from the Hollywood section of Scranton to the ballpark would begin at 1:30 PM. The players would arrive at the ballpark at 2:30 PM and the game begins at 3:15 sharp.   Pitcher Hooks Wiltse and catcher “Twister” Steinberg had their pictures in the article in the Scranton Times.

The season opened with a win for Scranton over Williamsport, 3-2. George Wiltse was the pitcher. Al Blandin of Scranton was the umpire.   The Scranton Times said the Scranton Miners scored all of their runs in the first inning . Wiltse pitched well and hung on for the win.

May 14, 1902 Night Baseball

Scranton may have been the one of the first towns to host night baseball. It attracted a large crowd too. The game was between Lancaster and Scranton at Athletic Park. The lights were placed 20 feet apart. Spectators and ballplayers could see the ball.  There were 5 errors committed total. The lights were placed at short intervals on twenty foot poles.  Scranton won the game 8-6. (Sporting Life May 1902)

The Scranton Times account of the game provides more details. The Headline read Electric Light Game. The baseball used in the game was bigger than the usual ball, nearly twice the size. The diameter of the ball was 6 inches. The writer wondered, How a man could strike out using a ball that size? The crowd was announced at 3,000 or 3,500.  “It was a farce comedy.”  The fielders waded in a murky darkness. The outfield was darker than the infield. Details of the game were impossible .  Scranton did win 12-7.

 On May 14, 1902,  it was noted in the Tribune that Wilkes-Barre had missed the train and therefore would not play its scheduled game. There was also a new manager for Wilkes-Barre which made a change in schedule necessary.

May 15th Wiilamsport claimed the game against Reading because the Reading team never showed up for the game.

May 17 Scranton defeated Wilkes-Barre 17-8. Rainey threw out 2 baserunners.

May 20th State league games will be suspended until Wednesday when Mount Carmel will take Wilkes-Barre’s place.

May 21st President of the league dropped Williamsport because it did not produce a forfeit and Mount Carmel so it would have an even number of teams.

On May 22nd Scranton was 7-5 in the 4 team league.

The teams were Scranton, Lancaster, Lebanon and Reading. Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport are listed as league participants in the Tribune.

May 23, 1902

Reading 6 Scranton 5

The headline in the Scranton Tribune read

“Played against 10 men?”

A near riot after Scranton lost to Reading 6-5 at Reading. Scranton claimed poor umpiring. Only one umpire was used at the time. Early in the game , Gorton tore the indicator out of the umpire’s hand. Later in the game, the umpire called Stroh out for cutting third base. Blakey of Scranton rushed, shook and then punched the Umpire  Sehl. A unit of police had to restore order as nearly 100’s  fans rushed the field. Blakey was “put off the field”. Blakey was nearly mobbed after the game.

May 27, 1902

Headline announced State League gives up the Ghost. It was on page 9 of the Scranton Tribune. The Lebanon team had called a strike because of lack of payment.  The PSL was left with 3 teams. Scranton went down in defeat in the last game to Lancaster 8-4. The Reading players were paid off and given their release. The paper said that Lancaster and Scranton may continue as independents. This did not happen.

The Wilkes-Barre club claimed it had not been paid a cent since the season started.

George Wiltse pitched for Albany in 1902, after the Pennsylvania State League disbanded. William Blakely went there as well. The manager of the Johnstown team protested  William Blakely going to Albany because he had accepted terms with Johnstown.

Johnstown signed Roger Gorton, Syracuse picked up catcher Edward Rainey.

Scranton Players:


George “Hook” Wiltse would go onto pitch for the New York Giants. He won his first 12 decisions for the Giants. George was the brother of Snake Wilse (a successful pitcher too).  George also played 3b in the PA State League.

Paul Steinberg or Twister Steinberg was a back-up catcher and physical trainer for the team. He was a professional football player as well in the early 1900’s. He was very good player. He also played basketball for Syracuse.

Other players:

Williamsport “Billies” Boomers

Charles “Mother” Booth

Fred “Snitz” Apregate

Lou Willig

Henry Willig

Jack Maley

Reading Brewers

Harvery Ritter

George Rust OF

Landegraf Manager

Billy Hofner

Tommy Reynold

Fred LaFontaine P

Chris LeBar C

LaFontaine and LeBar were credited in the Reading Eagle as the league’s only French batter. Both players were French Canadians.

Lebanon Iron Puddlers

Andy Costello

“Jolly Pat” Rollins



Ed Walsh pitched the opening day game for the Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons against the Reading Brewers. There were approximately 2,000 people in attendance.  Reading won the game 7-6. Ed did have 7 strikeouts, 2 walks and one wild pitch. He had mixed success in the month he pitched for Wilkes-Barre. He won at least 3 games.

Ed went on to win 17 games in the Connecticut State League in 1902 and had a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago White Sox. Ed won 40 games in 1908 and won 195 for his career.



May 3, 1902

Scranton 3 Williamsport 2

May5, 1902

Scranton 14 Williamsport 5  W McGarry

May 6 , 1902

Wilkes-Barre 8 Scranton 5 L

May 7, 1902   

The paper did not provide many details but the Pennsylvania State League provided one very interesting pitching matchup. Big Ed Walsh pitched against Hooks Wiltse.  Scranton and Wiltse won the game 5-4.

Scranton 5 Wilkes-Barre 4  W- Wiltse  L- Walsh

Hook Wiltse had 9 strikeouts, Ed Walsh had 6 strikeouts.

May 9, 1902

Lancaster 14  Scranton 9  L – Hardy

May 11, 1902 Scranton @ Lancaster

Scranton 11  Lancaster 6   W – Wiltse

May 12, 1902

Scranton @ Reading

Scranton 8        Reading 3   W McGarry    L  Fred Lafontaine

May 13, 1902

Scranton @ Reading Rainout

May 14, 1902

Lancaster @ Scranton

Scranton 19   Lancaster  8

May 14, 1902 

Lancaster @ Scranton Night Exhibition

Scranton 12 Lancaster 7

May 15, 1902

Lancaster @ Scranton

Lancaster 12    Scranton 3. Lancaster won the game with 7 runs in the eighth.

May 16, 1902

Wilkes-Barre @ Scranton

Scranton 17  Wilkes-Barre 8

Logan was 4 for 5, with 2 doubles.

May 17, 1902

Wilkes-Barre @ Scranton

Wilkes Barre 12  Scranton 1

May 21, 1902

Lebanon @ Scranton

Lebanon 12 Scranton 11   Wiltse L

May 22, 1902

Lebanon @Scranton

Scranton 11 Lebanon 5 McGarry W

May 23, 1902

Scranton @ Reading

Reading 6 Scranton 5  Wiltse L

May 24, 1902

Scranton @ Reading

Scranton 7 Reading 3

May 24, 1902 Night Exhibition

May 26, 1902

Lancaster 8 Scranton 4  Wiltse L

May 31, 1902 @ Scranton  

Scranton 8 Lancaster 6  Morning Game

Lancaster 22 Scranton 5 Afternoon Game