MOOSIC — Once all the festivities and Saturday night’s RailRiders game versus Toledo had concluded with a clean victory, winning pitcher Brian Gordon said it best when asked about all the pomp and circumstance.
“Tonight was all about Miley,” the right-hander said about his skipper Dave Miley, who was formally enshrined into the International League Hall of Fame prior to the contest. “It was special to pull in a win for him.”
That was exceptionally true. The huge night also consisted of much more throughout the night. The next biggest: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was on hand, not only to congratulate Miley, but to announce that the Yankees and RailRiders have extended their Player Development Contract through 2018. Using the stage on the biggest night of the season so far, Cashman and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre president and general manager Rob Crain signed the agreement right on the field after the third inning was completed.
“It’s a formality. We’re here for the long haul and we’ve restated that over and over again,” Cashman said. “It was Rob’s idea to have it (on the field), which was pretty cool to show the public here our commitment, which is real and strong.”
Party like it’s 1989
There was still a lot more going on at PNC Field on Saturday night as the RailRiders celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the franchise.
Members of the first Red Barons team in 1989 were on hand for a mini reunion as Wally Ritchie, Tommy Barrett and Brad Moore threw out first pitches with former longtime public address announcer John Davies announcing them like he did 25 years ago with that recognizable bounce in his iconic voice.
Championship banners from the Red Barons and Yankees era were hanging off the facade in left field and a championship banner flag blew from over right field.
Prior to the game a brief video was played with season ticket holders since 1989 recalling their favorite moments from the last quarter century and how things have changed over time. Of course, the most recognizable change in franchise history since then has been the renovated stadium.
“I think it’s awesome. I really do. I think it’s fan friendly,” said Cashman, who was at the ballpark for the first time. He had a broken leg last year and couldn’t make it. “From a baseball standpoint, it provides what we need. Then sitting up in the club (level) you can see down on everything and I love the right field situation where fans can sit out there at the bar, hang out on the lawn or take a walk around. It doesn’t look like there’s a bad seat in the house.”
A quarter-century tribute
Once the fifth inning had concluded with the RailRiders holding a lead they wouldn’t give up, Crain once again stepped on the field for a look back at the last 25 years.
The video featured the first game at PNC Field (then-named Lackawanna County Stadium) in 1989, highlights from the first Red Barons home run at the ballpark, Keith Miller’s blast to right field in 1989. The video also featured recognizable names like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Shelley Duncan and the celebration of the 2008 Governors’ Cup clincher.
The team also wore a special uniform featuring the color schemes of both teams, with Yankees dark blue pinstripes on the front giving way to Red Barons crimson pinstripes on the back.
The night concluded with a fireworks show for the second straight evening. But not before Crain once again arrived on the field.
This time dressed in a black suit and black t-shirt with the word “minister” inscribed on it, he became a minister for a night to renew the 25-year wedding anniversary of one couple on the field.
Debbie and Marty Novick, parents of RailRiders regional sales manager Alyssa Novick, renewed their vows after celebrating 25 years of their marriage last month. The couple first married on May 6, 1989, shortly after PNC Field (then named Lackawanna County Stadium) opened.