“This is the best thing ever for a ballplayer, just being able to get to this point. You dream about it. You don’t know if it’s going to happen, but when it happens, it’s a big blessing” ~ Carlos Beltran (MLB.com)
October Baseball. Are there two better words in the English language? Maybe “Opening Day” or “Play Ball” but other than that you would be hard pressed to find a better combination of two words that instill the excitement and anticipation that October Baseball does.
This month young Pirates fans experienced the bittersweet post season for the first time. The city of Boston rallied behind a beard. St Louis placed their hopes on the shoulders of young rookies that have gone above and beyond every time they have been asked to take the mound. It is emotionally charged baseball on the biggest stage.
With Game 6 just a few hours away I got to thinking, how many former New York-Penn League players are playing in the World Series?
Both the Red Sox and the Cardinals have New York Penn League affiliates, so odds are good that a few of the players you’ve seen in the league have made it to the big show. However, the fact that there are eighteen players currently listed on World Series rosters is incredible. Six of the eighteen players have been selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and these New York-Penn League alumni have combined to win four Golden Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, Comeback Player of the Year Award, American League Rookie of the Year, and a Roberto Clemente Award.
Even more mind-blowing, thirteen former New York-Penn Leaguers comprise over half of St. Louis’ roster and six of those thirteen have played for Batavia (the former St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) in the past five seasons. These players didn’t only play for Red Sox and Cardinals affiliate teams either. Seven different teams representing half of the New York- Penn League have a former player in the 2013 World Series.
Former New-York Penn League Players in the 2013 World Series
BOSTON RED SOX
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
So how does this all relate to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers?
Most Scrappers are young, so young in fact that many had never seen a Pirates postseason prior to this year. They are fresh out of college or high school and starving to prove themselves in their first year of Professional Baseball. The New York-Penn League is a place for them to work out their kinks, refine their skills, and start to develop who they are as a ball player. Our games may not be as clean and orderly as Major League Baseball (excluding this very bizarre World Series) but that talent is here both on our roster and on the visiting teams’.
Whether it be tonight or tomorrow former New York-Penn Leaguers will be crowned World Series Champions, and as cliché as it may sound, they started right here.