Our guest blogger series continues today with an entry from Scranton. Chris has a blog named Pinstriped Scranton.
A 2007 graduate of Marywood University, Chris did a documentary on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees as his senior project. He now works as a sportswriter for the Moscow Villager and covers the SWB Yanks for Pinstripes Plus.
Here is his post:
As a life-long Yankees fan transplanted in Scranton, hearing the news the Yankees were coming Moosic, Pa. (located just outside Scranton) was just about the best thing that I had ever heard. Instead of sitting back and living through the news reports, I decided to cover the process for my required senior project at Marywood University. It went a little something like this:
Getting the Yankees to come to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre wasnâ€™t something that happened overnight. Many changes had to be made along the way. The Philliesâ€™ affiliate, the Red Barons, were already on their way out, headed for a one-year exodus in Canada before taking their place in Lehigh (as the Iron Pigs). Someone needed to call Moosic home, so why not the Yankees?
To prepare for the Yankees, major changes needed to take place in the home teamâ€™s locker room. Politics in the area had a pushed that process back for sometime, essentially driving the Phillies out in the first place. In 2006, that changed and the Red Barons enjoyed a Major League caliber locker room in their final season. Major League enough that Omar Minaya, the Metsâ€™ GM, was blown away while taking a tour of the facility.
But that wasnâ€™t all that had to change. While the Yankees loved the new locker room, they needed more than that. The field was designed for the Phillies. It was reminiscent of the old field at The Vet. This meant the surface was Astroturf. The New York Yankees on Astroturf?
I donâ€™t think so.
For anyone who has never seen a transition from Astroturf to natural grass, itâ€™s an interesting process. Furthermore, itâ€™s a very long one. The turf was ripped off, removed, and a giant dirt field sat barren over the course of the long winter months before grass planted in early spring, just a few days prior to opening night. The difference was as clear as day and night.
It was more than just changes to the field that had to be agreed upon to bring the Yankees. Mandalay Sports was hired, by request of the Yankees, to manage the minor league club. Mandalay Sports owns and manages an assortment of teams, including the Single-A club Staten Island Yankees. And so, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees were born.
I believe general manager Jeremy Ruby put it best when speaking of the reasoning behind the name. â€œAs long as we have the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre attached, why not use the number one sports marketing name in the world,â€ he said.
From Opening Day to an early elimination in the International League playoffs, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees went on to break PNC Field attendance records and provide fans with one of the best minor league experiences in the country. So, if youâ€™re looking for a place to see the future of New York, come on down to Moosic, Pennsylvania. Trust me, you wonâ€™t regret it.