The upcoming season will one to be remembered in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. At least according to the SWB Railriders. Even though the club isn’t around that long yet, it will celebrate the existence of Minor League Baseball in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
Personally, I think it is taking credit for what other wizards have done but on the other hand, the club is seizing the opportunity to have a party all season long.
It all started in 1989 when the Phillies moved to town and named their AAA team the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. With the anniversary logo, the Railriders are giving a nod to that past even though it is not quite correct. The person who was named the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, flew a Fokker Dr.I, a triplane. The plane on the logo is a biplane, but that is probably a detail.
The 30th Anniversary Season will include 12 fireworks shows, premium giveaway items and appearances, a jersey retirement ceremony and reunion weekend, the introduction of the Copa de la Diversion initiative, new and returning theme nights and several new season-long nightly promos. This is all in addition to the nine bobblehead giveaways already announced that feature the likenesses of the All-Time SWB Team as nominated and voted on by the fans.
Team President and General Manager Josh Olerud stated: “We are primed for a big season. This anniversary season celebration is the basis for our promotional slate and the response has already been impressive. There is such a great heritage of baseball in NEPA. We are excited to pay tribute to our past while also hopefully watching our team make the playoffs and witness history in the making.”
There will be several bobbleheads giveaways: Jimmy Rollins (May 11), Chase Utley (June 1), Luis Severino (June 22), Brett Gardner (June 8), Rick Shu (July 6), Pat Burrell (July 19), Ryan Howard (August 3), Aaron Judge (August 11), and Gary Sanchez (August 31).
Next to these bobblehead giveaways, there will be some nice appearances as well. For example on July 5 when Dwier Brown, the actor who played the part of John Kinsella in the movie Field of Dreams, that will also celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, will make an appearance. From May31 through June 2 there will be a Red Barons Reunion weekend in which the Railriders will play in Red Barons throwback jerseys. During that weekend, on May 31st, former Red Barons manager Marc Bombard will be in the audience as his uniform number will be retired.
As written earlier, AAA baseball in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area started when the Red Barons came to town. They played at Lackawanna Stadium, a mini-me clone of Veterans Stadium. The ballpark even had AstroTurf as playing surface. The Red Barons played in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until 2006 when they left for Allentown to become the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Their place in SWB was taken by the Yankees’ AAA team that was named after the parent club. In 2012, a renovation/restructuring of the ballpark started and the Yankees played all of their games on the road as they were renamed Empire State Yankees for that season. When the reconstruction of the stadium was ready, it didn’t look like the old mini-me version of Veterans Stadium at all. With the new stadium in place, the team also got a new identity as it was named SWB Railriders.
Since the AAA farm team of the Yankees calls Scranton/Wilkes-Barre home, it has been rather successful. The team won eleven International League North Division titles, two league titles, and one overall AAA championship.