Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons 2005: Shane Victorino , MVP

Shane Victorino, International League MVP 2005

2005 International League MVP

2005 International League MVP

Shane Victorino is now an established Professional. He has been an all-star, gold glove winner and World Series Champion. He is currently with the Boston Red Sox. He signed with them after spending the later part of the 2012 season with the LA Dodgers.

Shane was drafted out of high school by LA. Selected by the Padres in the Rule 5 draft in 2002, he failed ot stay in the Bigs and was returned to the Dodgers. The Phillies selected Victorino from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft in 2004. He failed to stay on the Phillies roster and was offered back to the Dodgers. The Dodgers did not want him back and he spent the 2005 in Moosic, Pa. playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons on the “Astro-turf” of the “mini” vet. He had a great year. He .310 , 18 HRs and 70 rbi. He won the International League MVP becoming the first (and only) Red Baron to do so. His play earned Shane a September call-up and he hit his fist homerun on September 22nd off of Tim Hudson of the Atlanta Braves. Shane has been one of the best defensive Centerfielders in the game as well as being a solid hitter.

The photo above is from a July afternoon game. In the background is Garrett Jones of the Pirates. He was playing for the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins AAA franchise.

The 2005 Red Barons did not do well in 2005. It is surprising. They had the International League Batting Champion in Danny Sandoval, who hit .331, Victorino, and Gavin Floyd was an up and coming pitcher. They were managed by Gene Lamont and finsihed 69-75, good for 5th place in the North Division of the International League. Future Phillies’ catcher, Carlos Ruiz also played for the 2005 Red Barons. Ruiz batter an even .300 in 2005. Ruiz split time with Chris Coste. Chris Coste played parts of seasons with the Phillies and finshed his career with the Houston Astros. He hit .328 with the Phillies in 2006 playing in 65 games. In 2005 with Scranton, Chris hit 20 homers and batted .292 .

Ryan Howard played in 61 games and hit 16 HRs for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was called up to Philadelphia in the summer and never returned. He hit 22 HRs in Philadelphia and won the Rookie of the year award in 2005. He also won MVP honors in 2006, a season where he smashed 58 hrs.

Babe Ruth hits a LONG HR in Wilkes Barre 1926, Nearly gets crushed by a mob of kids in Scranton 1923

When Major League baseball was still in its infancy, players made appearances and promoted the game..and their wallets. Barnstorming across the country was a source of income before million dollar salaries and television. For some, this would be their only shot to see a baseball star in person.

In Ocotber 25, 1923, Babe Ruth came to Scranton to play in an exhibition at Brooks Athletic Field. The Babe Ruth all-stars defeated the local Scranton team 2-1. Thousands of youngster waited to get a up close view of their hero and came onto the field. It was reported that Babe in an attempt not to “spike” any of the youngsters fell. Some youngsters piled on the Babe and had to be removed by local law enforcement to prevent injuring Ruth. Babe was ushered out of the stadium by officials to a waiting car.

In 1926, Babe Ruth came to Wilkes-Barre’s Artillery Park. The Babe played in an exhibition game between Hughestown and Larksville, playing for Hughestown. The game was played on October 26th, 1926. During the game Ruth challenged Larksville’s hurler Ernie Corkran to throw him his “best stuff”. Corkran did. It was not too good for Ruth. He smashed a home run. It landed in Kirby Park on the far side of a high school running track.

Ruth asked that his homer be measured. It was hit an estimated 650 feet, the longest home run in baseball’s storied history.


The Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League – Willie Somerset

SomersetDriveSutor Willie Somerset #12 Houston

The Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League formed in 1946 and pre-dates the leagues that would become the NBA. It was founded on April 23, 1946 and it had six franchises – five in Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Allentown, Lancaster and Reading. A sixth franchise was in Binghampton, NY but moved to Pottsville, Pa by mid-season. It’s history has many franchises moving or disbanding during the season.

The competition in the league was good. Many famous players made their way through the tiny gyms and onto the NBA stage or found fame in other ways. Some players found their way into the ABA and stardom.

Willie was star player at Duquesne University. At 5 ft 8 inches he had to overcome the idea that he was too small to play. He was so good for the Dukes the school retired his #24 jersey om January 27, 2001. Willie used his quickness to average 22.7 points a game and was an All-American in 1965.

Willie Somerset became and all-star for the ABA after being cut by the NBA (He played in the NBA for 8 games with the  Baltimore Bullets  in 1965-66.)   and spending time with the Scranton Miners (I think they were still called the Miners at the time) Somerset averaged 21.7 pts per game in1967-68 and 23.8 in 1968-69 for the Houston Mavericks of the ABA. The Houston franchise was one of the ABA’s worst. No one attended the games and the announced attendance was 89 for a game in 1969. Willie is the 1th highest scorer in franchise history despite playing only 2 seasons. During the 1968-69 ABA season, when he was named an All-ABA. Somerset ranked fifth in the league in points per game, eighth in assists and third in Free Throw Percentage.
From 1970-73, Willie  played with the Scranton Miners of the Eastern Basketball  Association and was a member of the league’s championship team in 1971 coached by Stan Novack. Willie was named the league’s MVP. Statistics are sparse for the EBA.

Scranton Professional Basketball

Scranton has a long history in the EBL and CBA
Scranton Miners (1954-1970)
Scranton Apollos (1970-1977)
Pennsylvania Barons (1979-1980)
Scranton Aces (1980-1981)

Scranton competed in the old Eastern Basketball League. They won championships in 1957, 1971 and 1977. Scranton had many notable players throughout the years including Willie Somersett, Bill Spivey, Charlie Criss, Rory Sparrow and Jim Boeheim. Penn State great Jesse Arnelle played for the Hazelton Mountaineers. Jack Molinas, Bill Spivey, Bob McDonald all were unofficially banned from the NBA (for point shaving or in Spivey’s case refusing to testify) but thrived in the EBL. Bill Spivey played for both the Wilkes Barre and Scranton franchises.

The Eastern League was a weekend only league. The players played the games in high school gym or whatever was available. The Scranton franchise played at the Old Scranton Catholic Youth Center. It is currently being used by Lackawanna College. It was capable of seating approximately 2500 fans.

“Oh, baby! This McNamara kid is tough, baby!” G-MAC

t1_mcnamaraluke.jpgThe title is a quote from Dickie V regarding Scranton’s favorite son, Gerry McNamara. Vitale loved his hustle and his grasp of the fundamentals.

Gerry was a big recruit out of Scranton’s Bishop Hannan High School. Gerry could do it all, especially shoot, which he did with great frequency. Gerry won the Lackawanna League Division II Player of the Year for four years in a row. McNamara finished as Pennsylvania’s seventh all-time leading scorer (2917 points). Gerry McNamara scored a career-high 55 points in an 83-76 win over Trinity at Martz Hall in Pottsville. The Golden Lancers (29-3) won their 18th straight and snapped Trinity’s 43-game winning streak in the AA Eastern Final. Gerry scored 32 points in the state final, a 70-68 win against Sto-Rox. McNamara averaged 23.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game in 2001-02. He was a team captain for Coach John Bucci as a junior and a senior.

The championships continued the following year as Syracuse won it all and Gerry hit a record 6 3 pointers in the first half. Gerry’s Syracuse team beat Kansas 81-78.

Gerry McNamara is currenlty playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA’s developmental league. He is seeing significant playing time at point guard and is hoping that lands him a shot in the NBA. He is currently averaging 13.8 points a game and 6.3 assists.


Boxing History in Scranton , Larry Holmes returns and Mayor McCheese enjoys the Spotlight

holmesnortonhOLMESPAPPERholmesLarry Holmes

Starting in 1895 with Gentleman Jim Corbett (first “gloved” champion) through a 1983 title fight between Larry Holmes and Lucien Rodriguez at the Watres Armory, the list of boxers who passed through the Electric City is long. Many early fights were fought at Town Hall. In 1920, The Scranton Open Air Boxing Associaiton formed and leased the Athletic Park baseball field and planned to have bouts for up to 5,000 fans.

On July 25, 1940 Billy Soose, of Farrell, Pa., scored the year’s major boxing upset by pounding out a 10 round non-title decision over Middleweight Champion Ken Overlin, of Washington, D.C., before 7,000 wildly-cheering fans at Scranton Stadium. This event was held outdoors in the rain. Soose was a former College Champion at Penn State and was described as a ” smooth boxer and sharp puncher.”

“Sugar” Ray Robinson knocked out Jose Basora in the first round on August 25th, 1950 Scranton, Pa. He won the Middleweight Championship of Pennsylvania. Robinson ended the fight 52 seconds after it started. I am not sure if there is still a Pennsylvania Middleweight championship. Basora had made the bold prediction that he would be wearing Robinson’s belt. He had fought Robinson to a drar earlier in his career.

Before he started hawking Lean, Mean fat reducing grills and car care products 2 -time Heavyweight Champion George Foreman fought in Scranton. In 1969, George Foreman Knocked out Leo Peterson in the fourth round at the Scranton CYC.

In 1974, in a light heavyweight bout Bob Foster knocked out Harold Carroll in the fourth round at the Scranton CYC to retain what was left of his title. The WBA had stripped him of his title but PA, NY and seven other states sanctioned the fight. Foster raised his record to 41-5 with 32 knockouts. He received $12,860 for his fight and over 4,000 fans witnessed it. Foster had been kocked out by Joe Fraizer the previous year in a heavyweight title fight.

On August 16th, 1975 Jimmy Young KO’ed Robert Lloyd in the 7th round. Jimmy Young was a Heavyweight contender in the 1970’s, unfortunately for him the division was loaded at the time with George Foreman, Joe Fraizer,Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali.

Larry Holmes started his professional career on March 21, 1973 with a decision over Rodell Dupree in Scranton, Pa. Holmes fought a total of 10 times in Scranton. Larry reportedly made $63 for his first professional fight at the Scranton CYC. No attendance reports are available for his first fight.

Larry had always promised that he would return to fight here if ever won the Championship. Holmes made good on that promise on March 27, 1983 at Scranton’s Watress Armory. Holmes fought Lucien Rodrigues for the WBC title. Holmes won the fight in a 12 round decision.

Holmes first 2 professional years.

Mar 21  Rodell Dupree              Scranton, Pa                      W  4
May  2  Art Savage                 Scranton, Pa                     TK  3
Jun 20  Curtis Whitner             Scranton, Pa                     TK  1
Aug 22  Don Branch                 Scranton, Pa                      W  6
Sep 10  Bob Bozic                  New York, NY                      W  6
Nov 14  Jerry Judge                Scranton, Pa                      W  6
Nov 28  Kevin Isaac                Cleveland, Oh                    TK  3


Apr 24      Howard Darlington          Scranton, Pa                     TK  4
May 29     Bob Mashburn               Scranton, Pa                     TK  7
Dec 11       Joe Hathaway               Scranton, Pa                     TK  1

Holmes fought French boxer Lucien Rodriguez on March 27th at Scranton Watres Armory. He won a uanimous decision. Rodriguez became only the third fighter to go the distance with Holmes. Holmes weighed in at 221, the heaviest of his career. The crowd booed during the fight in the 10th and 11th rounds as Rodriguez tried to go the distance with the undefeated champ. The action was reportedly dull. Holmes said he was using this fight as tune-up for his fight in Las Vegas against Tim Witherspoon.

I remember Scranton’s Mayor at the time, James Barrett McNulty having his 15 minutes of fame on NBC. McNulty was largely known in West Scranton High as Mayor McCheese for his uncanny resemblance to the McDonald’s Character. I can’t really remember what he said. I do remember he was dressed in a boxing robe for the promo leading into NBC’s television coverage of the fight. McNulty put on a show of his own for the press. McNulty likened fighting in Scranton to making love to an old lady, ” it’s like making love to an old woman. She’s grateful.” (March 28,1983 Rich Hoffman, Knight Ridder Newspapers) Mc Nulty was described as “Scranton’s Roly Poly Mayor” by Ed Schuyler of the Associated Press.

Scranton Sports History/Baseball

I am going to use this blog to post information find regarding Scranton, Pa.’s varied sports history. Scranton has a long history of minor league baseball, minor league basketball and professional boxing. Minor League football also was played here from time to time.

Below is a list of Scranton’s minor league baseball teams. Baseball left Scranton in 1953 when the Browns franchise left town. The new Stadium was sold to Richmond, Va for their minor league team. In 1954, the stadium was dismantled and shipped piece by piece.

Scranton Indians (International Association)- 1887
Scranton Miners (Central League)- 1888
Scranton Miners (Pennsylvania State League)- 1892-1893
Scranton Indians (Pennsylvania State League)- 1894 Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Washer Women (Eastern League)- 1894 Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Coal Heavers (Eastern League)- 1895, Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Miners (Eastern League)- 1896-1897, Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Miners (Atlantic League)- 1899-1900, Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Miners (New York State League)- 1904-1917, Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Miners (New York-Penn League)- 1923-1937, Athletic Park/Brooks Field
Scranton Red Sox (Eastern League)- 1939-1952, Brooks Field and Scranton Stadium
Scranton Miners (Eastern League)- 1953, Scranton Stadium
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons- 1989-Present, Lackawanna County Stadium

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will begin an affiliation with the New York Yankees begining this current year, the artificial turf is being ripped up and replaced with natural grass.