The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (also known as SWB RailRiders) are a Minor League Baseball team of the Triple-A East and the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. They are located in Moosic, Pennsylvania, in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, and have played their home games at PNC Field (formerly Lackawanna County Stadium) since 1989.
Founded in 1989
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Triple-A East (from 2021)|
|International League (1989–2020)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Team||New York Yankees (2007–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|Class titles (1)|
|League titles (2)|
|Division titles (12)|
|Wild card berths (3)|
|Name||Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (2013–present)|
|Colors||Navy blue, cranberry, gold, white|
|SWB Yankees LLC (Yankee Global Enterprises (50%) and SWB Investors LLC (50%))|
|General Manager||Katie Beekman|
Founded as members of the International League (IL) in 1989, the team was known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons from 1989 to 2006 and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees from 2007 to 2012. They became the RailRiders in 2013. During their membership in the IL, they won two Governors' Cup championships and one Triple-A National Championship. They became members of the Triple-A East in 2021. Since 2012, the team is owned by SWB Yankees LLC and was previously owned by the Lackawanna County Stadium Authority.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (1989–2006)Edit
The team arrived in Lackawanna County in 1989 from Old Orchard Beach, Maine where it was previously the Maine Phillies and before that Maine Guides and were renamed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. The name was chosen as a reference to the early minor league franchises in the area, the Scranton Red Sox and the Wilkes-Barre Barons, both members of the Eastern League. A group from Scranton, Pennsylvania, called Northeast Baseball, Inc. (NBI), purchased the team in 1985, with the hopes of moving it to a soon-to-be-built stadium in Lackawanna County. Maine ownership later sued NBI, claiming violation of the purchase contract. NBI also filed suit, and after a lengthy court battle, won control of the franchise. The Philadelphia Phillies took control of the team for its final season in 1988, renaming it from Maine Guides to Maine Phillies before its relocation to Lackawanna County.
Despite early on-field struggles, the team enjoyed great popularity in the community. The Red Barons drew over 500,000 fans for their first five seasons. Led by .310 hitter Rick Schu and Jay Baller's 22 saves, the club drew 598,067 fans and finished 84–58 in 1992, good for first place in the IL Eastern Division. The Barons would eventually fall to the Columbus Clippers in the championship series. After six mediocre seasons, Marc Bombard took over as manager in 1997, and led the club to their second postseason appearance in 1999. The Barons reached the playoffs in four straight seasons from 1999 to 2002, losing in the finals in both 2000 and 2001. Bombard would manage the team for eight seasons, posting the best finish in Red Barons' history, a 91–53 record in 2002, led by Joe Roa's perfect 14–0 record.
In the middle part of the 2000s, many talented players played for the Red Barons. Many of them, such as Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Cole Hamels, would help the Phillies win five consecutive division titles from 2007 to 2011, and a World Series in 2008. Despite this, attendance dropped during this time. Following the 2006 season, the Phillies ended their affiliation with the Red Barons and signed a player development contract with the Ottawa Lynx in anticipation of that team's move to Allentown's new Coca-Cola Park as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the 2008 season.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (2007–2012)Edit
On September 21, 2006, the Red Barons announced an affiliation agreement with the New York Yankees, ending the Yankees' 28-year relationship with the Columbus Clippers. The Red Barons sold 47,000 tickets on the day of the announcement. On December 12, 2006, the team was renamed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, and unveiled new team logos and uniforms.
The club enjoyed much success in their first four seasons as the Yankees. In 2007, the SWB Yankees finished with a record of 84–59 and captured the IL North Division title for the fourth time in team history before losing to Richmond in the semi finals. The 2008 season was the most successful in franchise history as the Yankees finished 88–56, won another division championship, and earned their first league title. After defeating the Pawtucket Red Sox 3–1 in the semi finals, the Yankees beat the Durham Bulls 3–1 in the final round to earn the Governors' Cup trophy. The team again finished in first place in 2009 and advance to the championship before being swept by Durham, 3–0.
The team made history in 2010 as they became the first club in the 126 years of International League play to win five consecutive division championships. Since 2006, S/W-B has compiled a record of 424–289 (.595 winning %) and has finished atop the Northern Division. In the 2010 postseason, the Yankees were beaten by the Columbus Clippers three games to one in the semi final round.
On November 9, 2010, the Lackawanna County Multipurpose Stadium Authority voted to sell the franchise to Mandalay Baseball Properties. The following day, SWB Yankees, LLC, announced plans to move ahead with a $40-million renovation to PNC Field.
On April 26, 2012, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees were sold to SWB Yankees LLC, an ownership entity that is a joint venture between the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties. While SWB Yankees LLC owns the team, Mandalay Baseball Properties still manages the team.
Leadership of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees changed on July 9, 2012, when Rob Crain, the former assistant general manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers, was named the new president and general manager of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Crain replaced former president Kristen Rose, who resigned from her position in April 2012.
Empire State YankeesEdit
To facilitate major renovations to PNC Field during the 2012 season, the SWB Yankees chose to temporarily relocate their operations for 2012 to allow the renovations to be completed in one season rather than being spread over two to three years. The team based itself in Rochester, New York, and played over half its games at Frontier Field, home of the IL's Red Wings. Other home games were spread over five other sites:
- Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, New York (home of the short-season Class A Batavia Muckdogs)
- NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse, New York (all games against the regular tenant Syracuse Chiefs, plus two against the Buffalo Bisons)
- Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, New York (all other games against the Bisons)
- Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania (all games against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs)
- McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (one series against the Pawtucket Red Sox)
On May 6, 2012, a regular season record crowd of 13,584 fans were in attendance at Rochester's Frontier Field to witness Andy Pettitte make a start for the team against the Pawtucket Red Sox, wearing the "Empire State Yankees" logo. Pettitte had come out of retirement late in spring training of 2012, and made several minor-league appearances before joining the major league club. The game was originally supposed to be played at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, New York but was moved due to a high demand of tickets.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (2013–present)Edit
With the transition in ownership from a public authority to private hands, the new owners expressed an intent to change the name of the team for the 2013 season, including a possible change from "Scranton/Wilkes-Barre" to some other location identifier. On November 14, 2012, it was announced that the team would be known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, with logos, colors, and uniforms announced with the new name. The team name was submitted by Chuck Parente of Duryea. Although "RailRiders" received the most first place votes by fans, "Porcupines" received the most overall fan votes on the ballots ranked one through three. As a result, a porcupine was incorporated in the RailRiders' logo. The name of the team was a tribute to the Wyoming Valley's history as an economic powerhouse and railway center in the eastern parts of the state and Scranton's long contributions to the history of the US railroad and streetcar industries.
On July 25, 2013, the RailRiders played the longest game in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise history, defeating the Toledo Mud Hens 2–1 in 20 innings at PNC Field.
On September 3, 2014, Mandalay Baseball Properties announced the sale of its 50% interest in the RailRiders to the SWB Investors LLC. The sale was estimated to be in the $13 million to $15 million range. The New York Yankees retained their 50% ownership of the team. The ownership entity remains as SWB Yankees LLC. On January 6, 2016, Al Pedrique was announced as the RailRiders new manager taking over for Dave Miley.
In 2016, the RailRiders captured the franchise's second Governors' Cup title, securing 3–1 series victories over arch rival Lehigh Valley and the Gwinnett Braves. The RailRiders then defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Pacific Coast League by a score of 3–1 in the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game.
On January 31, 2018, Bobby Mitchell was named the RailRiders new manager.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are 100% owned by SWB Yankees LLC, a joint venture between Yankee Global Enterprises and SWB Investors LLC and was previously a joint venture between Yankee Global Enterprises and Mandalay Baseball Properties until Mandalay sold its stake in SWB Yankees LLC to SWB Investors LLC. Yankee Global Enterprises is the owner of the RailRiders' parent club the New York Yankees and SWB Investors LLC is a local ownership group that handles the day-to-day operations of the RailRiders. The joint venture's name comes from the name SWB Yankees, an alternate name that was used by the RailRiders when they were known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to distinguish themselves from their MLB affiliate the New York Yankees.
Yankee Global Enterprises and SWB Investors LLC each own 50% in the SWB Yankees LLC joint venture, automatically giving each 50% ownership in the RailRiders. SWB Investors LLC's 50% stake in the SWB Yankees LLC joint venture was originally held by Mandalay Baseball Properties. Former MLB pitcher Andy Ashby is one of the team's owner-investors.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yearly resultsEdit
|Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons|
|1992||84–58||2nd||Lee Elia||Lost League Finals|
|1996||70–72||5th (tied)||Butch Hobson (13–14)
Ramón Avilés (57–58)
|1999||78–66||5th||Marc Bombard||Lost Semi Finals|
|2000||85–60||2nd||Marc Bombard||Lost League Finals|
|2001||78–65||4th||Jerry Martin (33–32)
Marc Bombard (45–33)
|Lost League Finals|
|2002||91–53||1st||Marc Bombard||Lost Semi Finals|
|2003||73–70||4th (tied)||Marc Bombard|
|2005||69–75||9th (tied)||Gene Lamont|
|2006||84–58||1st||John Russell||Lost Semi Finals|
|2007||84–59||1st||Dave Miley||Lost Semi Finals|
|2008||88–56||1st||Dave Miley||League Champions|
|2009||81–60||3rd||Dave Miley||Lost League Finals|
|2010||87–56||2nd||Dave Miley||Lost Semi Finals|
|2012||84–60||1st||Dave Miley||Lost Semi Finals|
|2015||81–63||3rd||Dave Miley||Lost Semi Finals|
|2016||91–52||1st||Al Pedrique||League Champions|
|2017||86–55||1st||Al Pedrique||Lost League Finals|
|2018||73–65||3rd||Bobby Mitchell||Lost League Finals|
|2019||76–65*||1st||Jay Bell||Lost Semi Finals|
|2020||N/A||N/A||Doug Davis||Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic|
∗ Won tie-breaker game against the Syracuse Mets.
The RailRiders home uniform is white with navy blue pinstripes, mirroring those of the New York Yankees. The primary home jersey features the SWB logo on the left chest. The cranberry colors in the logo are a tip of the cap to the Red Barons.
The team's initial radio play-by-play announcer, Kent Westling, retired prior to the 2008 season and had been with the franchise since it moved to Pennsylvania in 1989. While he cut back his schedule in later years, Westling, a former local television sportscaster who once worked on telecasts of St. Louis Blues hockey team, had been behind the microphone for more than 2,000 games until announcing his resignation after the 2007 season.
Mike Vander Woude served as the team's second play-by-play announcer from 2008 until 2012. In 2013, John Sadak, the 2012 Carolina League broadcaster of the year and the 2013 national minor league broadcaster of the year, took over the play-by-play duties. Sadak was joined on the air by Darren Headrick from 2015 through 2017.
On November 6, 2017, Adam Marco was announced as the RailRiders new Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations.
7-day injured list
^ Igawa was posted by the Hanshin Tigers in 2006 and the Yankees won the bidding for him. However, he spent most of his time with the team in Scranton as he struggled to remain on the Yankees' roster and has since returned to Japan.
†Made only appearance(s) for franchise during rehab assignment
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- "1992 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- "2002 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Statistics". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- "Yankees Farm Team To Play Here". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12.
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- "Empire State Yankees name, logos revealed". MiLB.com. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
- "Red Wings to host SWB Yankees games in '12". MiLB.com. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
- "SWB Yankees announce home sites for 2012" (PDF).
- Triple-A Scranton Yankees will wander without home by Ronald Blum, Associated Press via Yahoo! News, Mar 13, 2012; accessed April 5, 2012
- Local baseball team temporarily renamed; permanent change might come in 2013 by Donnie Collins and Rebekah Brown, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune, Mar 8, 2012; accessed May 23, 2012
- Collins, Donnie (May 7, 2012). "Pettitte Draws Thousands to Rochester, but Yanks Come Up Short Against PawSox". The Times-Tribune (Scranton). Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- "SWB Yankees to change name".
- "Rail celebration". Times Leader. 2015-06-03. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "RailRiders interest sold to investment group". Ball Park Digest. Ballparkdigest.com. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- "Pedrique Headlines SWB Field Staff Changes". www.milb.com. Minor League Baseball.
- "El Paso vs. Scranton/WB - September 20, 2016". www.milb.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- "2020 Minor League Baseball season shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020.
- Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
- Ferenchick, Steve. "SABR Bio Project: Andy Ashby". SABR.org.
- "Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Adult Home Cool-Base Jersey". railriders.milbstore.com. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. "Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees: News: Article". Minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (October 30, 2012). "Sadak Named SWB's New Voice". Minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- thetimes-tribune.com (January 14, 2013). "RailRiders get five-year radio deal". thetimes-tribune.com. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
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