Mr. October Tosses First Pitch at RailRiders Renovated Ballpark

April 14, 2013 – On April 4, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders played the first game in their home ballpark since September 2011. The Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate played their entire 2012 slate on the road while PNC Field underwent major renovations.

I was at the RailRiders first game in their newly renovated ballpark, which, in my opinion, is now as comfortable as any minor league facility. It has more amenities than I could have imagined, and it’s truly a family-friendly place.

For more on PNC Field, check out the May Issue of Yankees Magazine, which will include a feature on the park by Scott Walsh of the Times-Tribune of Scranton.

Prior to the game, I caught up with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who was there to throw the ceremonial first pitch. Enjoy the interview below, which is exclusive to this blog.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Alfred Santasiere III: What are your thoughts on the renovated ballpark in Scranton?

Reggie Jackson: They did a great job with it. It’s exciting for the fans and for the players. It’s always nice playing in a new ballpark, and this really is state-of-the-art now. It will be an unbelievable setting in the summer, when the trees are in full bloom. There are nice places for the fans to gather and to have good time, and the players will benefit from the improved facilities that are in place. I never played in a minor league park like this, but I’m really excited for everyone involved.

AS: What does being asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch mean to you?

RJ: The Steinbrenners asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I was happy to do it. I have had a close relationship with the Steinbrenner family, and, of course, George Steinbrenner, since I was in my late-20s. They’ve always been respectful, and anything that I can ever do for them I am happy to do. I consider it an honor to be in a position to represent the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family. I wouldn’t get to do things like this if the Steinbrenners didn’t respect me, and the fact that they asked me means a lot.

AS: You’re from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, which is about 100 miles from here. Does this first pitch have added significance because it’s in your home state?

RJ: Yes. I like being back in Pennsylvania. Scranton reminds me a lot of Cheltenham, and it always feels good to be back in this part of the country. I’m proud to be from the Keystone state.

AS: Any predictions for the pitch? Are you going to throw a strike?

RJ: I’m not that young anymore, but if I can get my arm loose, I will get it over the plate.

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