• Steve Potter

6/17/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The Schenectady Blue Jays


Time Period - 1946 to 1957


Venue :  Schenectady Stadium 


City : Schenectady, NY 


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Franchise History :  

Prior to 1946 professional baseball was played in Schenectady from 1895 to 1904 by various teams in the New York State League followed by the Negro League Mohawk Giants from 1913 to 1915, the Chappie Johnson All Stars from 1924 to 1928 and a rebirth of the Mohawk Giants from 1929 to 1943.


The Schenectady Blue Jays origination was directly attributed to the Carpenter family.  Coinciding with the family purchase of the Phillies during WWII the new ownership decided to expand their minor league footprint and Schenectady was chosen as a new affiliation to join the Can-Am League.  A local duo, the McNearney brothers ( Pete and Jim ), who were also business partners in a beer company became the franchise team owners ... they built a new stadium completely out of their own funds.  The team began play on a field known as Central Park but moved to the new digs halfway thru their first season.


The Blue Jays name was chosen for the team in honor of the Phillies secondary identity during World War II.  In 1951 the club was moved to the higher level Eastern League replacing the Utica Blue Sox as the Phillies affiliate in that league.  They remained an Eastern League member thru the 1957 season after which the Phillies moved their Eastern League affiliation to Williamsport, PA and discontinued the franchise in Schenectady.


The club played from 1946 to 1957 and won two championships ... one in the Can-Am League (1947 ) and one in the Eastern League (1956 ).


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :


The team began play in 1946 on a diamond in the city’s Central Park but then moved to the newly constructed McNearney Stadium midway thru the initial season.


The new stadium was located on Jackson Ave in Schenectady and had a seating capacity of 3,500 which was later expanded to 5,000 in 1950.  It was built by two local business men Jim and Pete McNearney.   Field dimensions were 320 to LF, 390 to CF and 320 to RF.


It was known for its outstanding field lights, General Electric Company was headquartered at the time in Schenectady and used the ball park to test out the light system that they would eventually install in Yankee Stadium ... hence the field had a major league shine 😂. 


In 1950 the stadium was renamed Schenectady Stadium ... after the Phillies left in 1957 the site was converted to a nine hole golf course with the stadium used as the clubhouse. Pete McNearney sold the site to the Hennel family in 1965 and they eventually built an 18 hole course that opened in 1987.   It’s been in operations since entitled as the Stadium Golf Club. 


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The Seasons :


1946


Canadian American League  (C) ... Manager : Bill Cronin ... 45-75, 7th place ... Attendance: 53,239. 


Five players on the roster would go on to play Major League Baseball ... 


1947


Canadian American League  (C) ... Manager : Lee Riley ... 86-51, 1st place ... Attendance: 146,227.   League Champions ... Defeated the Amsterdam Rugmakers 4 games to 3 in playoffs and the Gloversville-Johnston Glovers 4 games to 1.


Lee Riley ( father of NBA legend Pat Riley ) skippered his only league championship club during what would be a become a seven year run as a Phillies minor league manager.  He also played in 30 games as a 40 year old first baseman.


18 year old RHP Steve Ridzik posted a 9-3 record with an ERA of 2.68 in 16 games (104 IP) ... he would go on to play in parts of 12 big league seasons with the Phillies, Reds, Giants, Indians and Senators from 1950 to 1966 ... appearing in 314 major league games over that span. 


1948


Canadian American League  (C) ... Manager : Lee Riley ... 69-68, 5th place ... Attendance: 146,421. 


Legend has it that during the season 20 year old LHP Tommy Lasorda struck out 25 batters in a 15 inning contest 😳 ...overall he posted a 9-12 mark in 32 games ( 192 IP) with a 4.64 ERA.  He would go on to appear in 26 major league games as a pitcher in the 1950’s with the Brooklyn Dodgers and KC Athletics ... of course he’s best known for his Hall of Fame managing efforts  ( inducted in 1997 ) after his playing days were over ... 21 major league seasons ( 1976 to 1996 ) with the LA Dodgers after spending 8 seasons as a minor league manager.   His Dodger teams posted a 2,123-1,851 record ... a .534 winning percentage over his storied career. 


1949


Canadian American League  (C) ... Manager : Dick Carter ... 58-80, 7th place ... Attendance: 115,966. 


No player on the roster ever advanced to the major leagues ... 22 year old RHP Archie Luba posted a 17-16 record in 39 games ( 249 IP ) with a 3.22 ERA.   He played two more seasons thereafter before retiring.


1950


Canadian American League  (C) ... Manager : Dick Carter ... 88-46, 2nd place ... Attendance: 76,853.  Lost in playoffs to the Amsterdam Rugmakers 4 games to 2.


One player on the roster eventually advanced to the Major Leagues ... 21 year old Shortstop Mickey Micelotta posted a .257 batting average in 470 AB’s ... he would go on to play in 17 games in the big leagues with the 1954 and 1955 Phillies.


1951


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Lee Riley ... 73-66, 5th place ... Attendance: 93,559. 


Seven members of the roster either had played or would play Major League Baseball including 20 year old infielder Eddie Kasko who would go on to play in 10 big league seasons from 1957 till 1966 with the Cardinals, Reds, Colt 45s, Astros and Red Sox appearing in 1,077 games.  He would also manage in 4 big league seasons with the Red Sox from 1970 thru 1973, his four Sox teams all had winning records. 


1952


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Danny Carnevale ... 73-65, 4th place ... Attendance: 81,912.


23 year old RHP Jack Sanford posted a 16-8 record with a 2.94 ERA in 205 IP.   He threw over 200 IP in 4 of his 7 minor league seasons.  Sanford would play in 12 major league seasons over the time frame from 1956 to 1967 with the Phillies, Giants, Angels and Athletics and appeared in 388 big league games ( 293 as a starter ). 


1953


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Skeeter Newsome ... 86-65 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 66,320.  Lost in the Playoffs to the Reading Indians 4 games to 2.


42 year old manager Skeeter Newsome played in 33 games.  19 year old RHP Turk Farrell posted a 7-3 record with a 3.39 ERA in 16 games ( 93 IP) ... it was his first pro season.  Turk would go on to play in 14 major league seasons over the span from 1956 to 1969 with the Phillies, Dodgers, Colt 45s and Astros appearing in 590 games ( 134 as a starter ) amassing 1,704.2 big league frames. 


1954


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Snuffy Stirnweiss & Lew Krausse ... 57-83, 8th place ... Attendance: 45,529. 


Ten players on the roster either had played or would play in the major leagues including 24 year old outfielder Stan Payls who posted a .316 batting average in 323 AB’s with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs ... he played in parts of 4 big league seasons from 1953 to 1954 appearing in 138 games before heading over to Japan to play later in his career from 1964 to 1967 for the Tokyo Orions where he would hit 66 home runs. 


1955


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Don Osborne ... 74-64 , 4th place ... Attendance: 73,585. Defeated Reading Indians 3 games to 1 in playoffs ... lost to the Allentown Cardinals 3 games to 2 in the Championship Series.


21 year old OF/1B Pancho Herrera played in 109 games in his first season with the Phillies organization ... the Cuban born Herrera would advance to AAA level Syracuse later in the year where he would play in 21 games.


1956


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Dick Carter ... 84-54, 1st place ... Attendance: 66,458.

League Champions ... Defeated the Allentown Cardinals in playoffs 3 games to 0 and the Reading Indians 3 games to 0 in Championship Series.


The team had a dominant pitching staff with five hurlers posting ERA’s under three and two more under 3.5 .... 21 year old LHP Dick Bunker had a 17-8 record with a 2.09 ERA in 202 IP,  22 year old RHP Bob Conley was 16-5 with a 2.31 ERA in 160 IP, 25 year old RHP Hank Mason was 15-11 with a 2.28 ERA in 205 IP, 27 year old RHP Charles Bowers was 11-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 61 appearances ( 119 IP ) and 26 year old RHP John Anderson was 8-5 with a 2.10 ERA in 154 IP.  The staff dominated the playoffs as they swept their way to a championship. 


1957


Eastern League  (A)... Manager : Dick Carter ... 83-57 , 2nd place ... Attendance: 59,552. 

Lost to the Reading Indians 3 games to 0 in the playoffs.


25 year old RHP Don Erickson went 14-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 156 IP ... he pitched in 9 big league games with the 1958 Phillies ... the extent of his big league career.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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