NILES, Ohio (WYTV) — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers began their 16th season of play at Eastwood Field on Tuesday.
The basics of the organization have not changed since 1999. They are still short season single A, still in the New York-Penn League and they are still playing at Eastwood Field.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are at the low end of the Major League Baseball chain, with players on the roster for as little as a few weeks up to at most two years. That is why to get a feel of the Scrappers history, WYTV 33 News anchor Stan Boney had to talk with the two top people in the front office: Assistant General Manager Heather Sahli, who has been around for 10 years, and General Manager Jordan Taylor who is in his 13th season.
“Really starting about the time Mahoning Valley came into the market here was really the start of a boom period for minor league baseball. And really almost every team is run really as a top notch business and we have been fortunate to be profitable over the years,” Taylor said.
“A lot of people come and they enjoy everything that happens here, not necessarily the play on the field, but between innings promotions, what giveaways we have that night, the music,” Sahli said.
Few remember the struggle to get the stadium built on what at the time was vacant land adjacent to the Eastwood Mall. Niles City Council balked at spending public money, so in stepped the Cafaro Corporation with $6.5 million. Opening night was in June 1999 at what was then called Cafaro Field.
Michele Goberish was the first one through the gate.
In 2003, the name was changed to Eastwood Field, but the Scrappers remain the Scrappers. Thursday is still buck night but new this year will be T-shirt Tuesday’s. And this year on Aug. 9, it will be Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini bobblehead night.
As far as the future, there is always talk of the Scrappers becoming a full season single or even a double-A affiliate, but Taylor said that would likely mean losing the affiliation with the Cleveland Indians since the Indians already have those teams nearby.
“In my opinion this is a great league to be in. It’s really, regardless of classifications, the New York Penn League is one of the top-end leagues. And it’s one of the great opportunities for fans to see players in their first or second year. We have been fortunate. We have had, I think, over 70 players play in the big leagues in our 15, going on 16, seasons with the Scrappers. So it’s a chance to see the best of the best, just early on. So I think we are in a good spot here,” Taylor said.