It was 20 years ago when the first version of the Jamestown Jammers, formerly the Niagara Falls Rapids, clinched a spot in the New York-Penn League playoffs on the final night of the regular season at then College Stadium.
It appears this season’s Jammers could be in the same situation as they are currently battling with State College for the Pinckney Division title.
But back to two decades ago, and the end of an exciting inaugural regular season for the Jammers, who were a Detroit Tigers’ affiliate.
In that final game, first-place Jamestown took on the second-place Batavia Clippers, who trailed by one game in the Stedler Division standings. The Jammers had to win the game to claim the division title and a spot in the playoffs because if they finished tied with Batavia, the Clippers would win the division due to a tiebreaker.
Batavia took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning, but Jamestown tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.
It finally ended after midnight in the bottom of the 12th when Mike Martin of the Jammers scored on a one-out single by Mac White, who returned to the University of South Carolina the next day to begin classes.
The Jammers opened their semifinal series that night against the New Jersey Cardinals and won 3-2. But when the series moved to the Garden State, the Cardinals won, 13-4 and 9-5, and the Jammers’ first season was over.
Following are some other tidbits about the inaugural season the of Jammers.
FIRST IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
The Jammers’ offensive leader in 1994 was outfielder Bubba Trammell, who hit .298 with 41 RBIs.
He also became the first Jammer to make it to the major leagues when he made his debut with Detroit on April 1, 1997.
Nine days later in an on-field ceremony at Tiger Stadium before a game against the Minnesota Twins, Trammell was presented his Jammers jersey, which was retired.
In 1997 he hit .228 with four home runs for the Tigers. In November, Trammell was selected by Tampa Bay in the expansion draft. He played for two seasons with the Rays and hit .286 with 12 homers and .290 with 14 homers.
In 2000 after 66 games with Tampa Bay, Trammell was traded to the New York Mets. Then he was traded to San Diego and played with the Padres for two seasons and finished his major-league career with the Yankees in 2003.
SUCCESSFUL CONVERTED CATCHER
After three seasons as a catcher for four teams in the minor leagues for Detroit, Kenny Marrero had never hit higher than .258. In February before the Jammers’ first season, the Tigers switched him to pitching with great results.
His baseball card still listed him as a catcher, but showed him winding up as a pitcher.
After compiling a 4-1 record with a 2.11 ERA out of the bullpen, he was named the Jammers co-most valuable pitcher.
Teammate Bryan Corey (whose first named was mispelled on his baseball card) must have noticed. He was an infielder who batted .153 in 41 games for the Jammers. He switched to pitching the next season and was 2-2 with 10 saves and a 3.86 ERA. Eventually, he pitched for five seasons in the major leagues for the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox and Padres.
THE SILENT FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUER
Dave Roberts was a consistent hitter for the Jammers in 1994 with .292 average and he was second on the team in stolen bases with 12. And that last stat is noteworthy.
Despite his solid stats, Roberts was not a name that was mentioned much when discussing the Jammers in 1994. He simply went about doing his job quietly.
Roberts made it to he majors in 1999 with the Cleveland Indians where he played for three seasons. Then he was traded to the Dodgers and played with them for two seasons and half of 2004 before he was traded to the Red Sox and that is where he made his mark.
He didn’t play in the 2004 World Series, but he helped Boston get there with his memorable stolen base as a pinch runner against the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS.
Roberts finished his career playing for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants and is currently the Padres first-base coach.
LEARNING FROM SOME OF THE BEST
Dave Anderson was the manager of the 1994 Jamestown Jammers.
He was an infielder for nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, but played only 250 games in the minor leagues. And only 65 in Class A. He then moved immediately to Triple A.
Anderson was released by the Giants in 1993 and jumped at the chance when Detroit offered him the managing position in Jamestown.
He had played under some talented managers such as Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers and Roger Craig of the Giants.
Anderson is currently the first-base coach for the Texas Rangers.
The Jamestown pitchers had Sid Mongi as their coach. He had pitched for the Cleveland Indians from 1977-1981 and was 12-10 with 19 saves and a 2.40 ERA in 1979.
In 1982, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, the following year he was traded to San Diego and in June of that year, he was sold to the Tigers. So he left a first-place team in San Diego to join another first-place team in Detroit. That’s when he finally got to the World Series with the Tigers and ironically they beat the Padres.
PLAYOFFS IN A FIELD OF DREAMS
The Jammers took on the New Jersey Cardinals, the McNamara Division champions, in the semifinal round of the NY-P League playoffs in 1994. New Jersey was new to the league and its stadium was also new, and not finished.
Skylands Park was located in Augusta in northwestern New Jersey. It was definitely a rural area and like in Field of Dreams, the stadium was literally behind a cornfield.
However, just before the 1994 NY-P League season began, work on the stadium stopped because the company constructing it went bankrupt. Everything looked the same in September when the playoffs began as it did in June when the season opened. There were boxes of trash and construction materials piled within the facility. But enough of the stadium was completed for New Jersey to lead the NY-P League in attendance with 150,378 fans, an average of 4,177 per game.
The New Jersey Cardinals lasted until 2005. Following that NY-P League season, the franchise was moved to State College, Pa., and became the Spikes.