• Steve Potter

6/13/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The Elmira Pioneers


Time Period - 1959 to 1961


Venue : Dunn Field


City : Elmira, NY


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Franchise History :


The Elmira Pioneers pro franchise had a long history dating back to 1885 when it was founded. The Pioneer name was first used in 1900. In the early days they played as an independent team in the Atlantic and New York State Leagues. The franchise joined the New York Penn League in 1923 ... in 1932 it became an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals switching to the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1937 to 1940 following two more years of unaffiliated play (‘35 & ‘36).


The Detroit Tigers were the affiliate from 1941 to 1942 and the St Louis Browns from 1945 to 1949. In 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers re-affiliated ... that lasted till 1955. The Washington Senators affiliated from 1957 to 1958 followed by the Phillies from 1959 to 1961.


Baltimore took over the affiliation in 1962, the Orioles stayed thru the 1968 season. The San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals shared the affiliation for the 1969 season with the Royals becoming the sole affiliation for 1970 and 1971. In 1972 the Cleveland Indians were there for one season.


In 1973 the Boston Red Sox began a long affiliation which ran thru the 1992 season albeit they changed the team name for a couple years to the Pioneer-Red Sox. The club then affiliated with the Florida Marlins from 1993 to 1995.


Following the 1995 season the franchise was moved to Lowell, MA and re-affiliated with the Red Sox and became the Lowell Spinners.


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :


The first stadium at the site was called Maple Avenue Driving Park and is historically known as the venue to host the first Pro football game on 11/21/1902. The stadium burned in 1938 and was replaced by Dunn Field which was built in 1939.


Dunn Field was named for Edward J Dunn who was known as Elmira’s “foremost citizen”. The stadium is located at 546 Luce Street and the seating capacity was 6,000 when built ... dimensions were 325 to LF, 400 to CF and 325 to RF.


The ballpark sits on the banks of the Chemung River. Local high school football and baseball teams use the stadium as their home field, it’s also hosted boxing and wrestling matches and The Beach Boys performed a concert there in 1984.


In 2012 extensive renovations were made to update the then 73 year old venue.


Currently the stadium is the home of the amateur level Elmira Pioneers of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.


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The Seasons :


1959


New York Penn League (D ) ... Manager : Andy Seminick... 67-57, 3rd place ... Attendance: 39,867. Defeated Geneva Redlegs in playoffs 2 games to 0 but lost in Championship Series to Wellsville Braves 3 games to 2.


21 year old infielder Lee Elia played his first pro season and posted a .297 batting average in 374 AB’s and stroked 18 doubles, he also stole 19 bases. Lee would go on to play parts of two seasons in the majors with the 1966 White Sox and the 1968 Cubs. He later became an important part of the Phillies Minor League Player Development group and also coached and managed in the major leagues.


1960


New York Penn League (D ) ... Manager : Jack Phillips ... 56-74, 5th place ... Attendance: 30,704.


18 year old Dick Allen began his pro career as a shortstop ( played 85 games at the position ) and hit .281 in 320 AB’s with 8 home runs and 42 RBIs ... he went on to what I consider a Hall of Fame 15 year big league career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and Athletics.


Hank Allen ( 19 years old ) ... Dick’s brother also made his pro debut and hit .261 in 456 AB’s ... he went on to play in 7 big league seasons with the Senators, Brewers and White Sox as an outfielder and first baseman.


1961


New York Penn League (D ) ... Manager : Moose Johnson ... 61-63, 5th place ... Attendance: 30,416.


19 year old LHP John Morris led the league in ERA with a 2.02 mark in 129 IP. He would go on to play in 8 big league seasons with the Phillies, Orioles, Pilots, Brewers and Giants from 1966 to 1974.


20 year old 1B Hank Allen returned to Elmira and hit 22 home runs with 88 RBIs in 415 AB’s posting a .282 batting average.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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