Ahead in the Count

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers — 10 years later

written by Ted Sullivan

Ten years ago this summer I was a member of the inaugural Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a short-season Single A team in the Cleveland Indians Organization. It was one of the most enjoyable athletic seasons of my life for a number of reasons but mostly because I was playing with a great group of guys for a team that was genuinely loved by the community.

mvscrappersThe residents of Niles, Ohio had been supposedly begging for a minor league team for several years. Finally the funding came together for a beautiful little stadium in the center of town, surrounded by (what else?) a gigantic shopping mall. Niles is about 60 miles from Cleveland and many fans followed the Indians draft and farm system closely. So while most low-level minor leaguers are essentially nameless players in the right or wrong colored jersey, we were rooted for as individuals. Coming from a college baseball program (Duke) that always took a back seat to basketball (and lacrosse, and soccer, and tennis… ) it was pretty awesome to sign autographs while waiting in the deli line for a sandwich.

CC

C.C. as a Scrapper

Fueled by great fans, a new ballpark and a well-liked and respected Manager (Ted Kubiak), our team went on a great second half run and came within one game of winning the New York Penn League that season. We lost to the Tampa Bay Rays single A team, the Hudson Valley Renegades who where loaded with talent including that year’s first overall draft pick and 2008 MLB Home Run Derby Champ, Josh Hamilton.

I’m often asked, “Where are your minor league teammates now?” I’ve remained close with a few of my Scrapper teammates but have lost touch with most.  You can keep tabs on a couple by turning on ESPN: New York Yankee, C.C. Sabathia, was on that team for part of the season and is now the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball.  Victor Martinez caught about 90% of my pitches that season and was one of my favorite guys on the team. Victor is now an MLB All-Star and was just traded from the Tribe to the Red Sox.

But nearly all the others aren’t as easy to follow. Recently I have tried to track some down using Facebook and over the next few weeks I’ll make occasional  “Where are they now?” updates on this blog.

Stay tuned.

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August 12, 2009 Posted by | written by Ted Sullivan | , , , , , | Leave a comment