Pennsylvania Road Warriors
|League||Atlantic League of Professional Baseball|
|Colors||red, black, grey|
The Pennsylvania Road Warriors was a team owned by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and Frontier League. From 1998–2004, they played in the Atlantic League as various teams and from 2006–2007 and 2010–2012 they played in the Frontier League as mainly a traveling team. Both leagues are not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The team was revived in October 2010 because of the departure of the Newark Bears to the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.
The original team was known as the Newburgh Black Diamonds and later the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds, based in Pennsylvania. Northampton County and the ownership planned a 5,000 seat stadium called the Lehigh Valley Multi-Purpose Sport Complex in Williams Township near Easton, Pennsylvania to be completed in 1999. However, the owners filed for bankruptcy and left the stadium unfinished, forcing the team to play its games on the road. In 2000, the team played in a small ballpark in Quakertown, Pennsylvania with little to no fan support. One infamous game had a paid attendance of two people.
In 2005, the Lancaster Barnstormers took the place of the Road Warriors. When the Nashua Pride left to join the Can-Am League, the league re-established the Road Warriors for the 2006 season to replace the Pride, but did not give them a location.
With the move of the Atlantic City Surf to the Can-Am League for the 2007 season, the Road Warriors returned to fill the gaps in the schedule until the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs joined in 2008. In October 2010, it was announced that the Road Warriors will again fill in scheduling holes left by the departing Newark Bears.
The team was founded in 1998 as the Newburgh Black Diamonds and in 2000, moved to Lehigh Valley to be the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds, based in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. From the 1998 season to 2001, they played in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
The Black Diamonds never really had a home field. In their first season in the league they were forced to play in Newburgh, New York at Delano-Hitch Stadium. When a lease agreement could not be reached with the Newburgh stadium the team played the entire 1999 season on the road. After the league amended their charter before the 2000 season forcing all teams to have a home stadium the Black Diamonds played at Memorial Park in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. They spent the rest of their short existence as a traveling team in 2001. In 2002 The Black Diamonds became the Pennsylvania Road Warriors when the stadium appeared to have fallen through and a deal to purchase the team could not be reached.
The Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds were originally slated to play at the Lehigh Valley Multi-Purpose Sport Complex, a 6,400-seat, $15 million ballpark in Williams Township, Pennsylvania. Construction was halted by developer Jim Petrucci when the team owner, Thomas Flaherty, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 1, 2000, with some $3 million in debts. Bankruptcy records showed 128 people submitted claims for $52,683 in season ticket sales.
For the four years that the Black Diamonds were in existence they would only have a home stadium for two of them. Their win-loss percentage and standing in the league was also less than good. In 1998 they finished the season with a 42–58 record placing them in 4th place in the six team league. In 1999 they would finish tied for last in the league with a 52–67 record. In 2000 the Black Diamonds again finished last in the now eight team league with a record of 51–88. Finally, in 2001 they finished last for a third year in a row with a dismal 37–89 record.
The Black Diamonds would go down in history as one of the most unsuccessful and poorly managed teams in baseball history. While in Quakertown for the 2001 season they played at Quakertown's Memorial Stadium. The stadium was not built for minor league baseball and only held about 900 fans. The Black Diamonds stood third in line behind the Quakertown summer college baseball league and American Legion team in terms of schedule priority. Therefore most of their games were afternoon games that took place on weekdays. According to statistics the average attendance for the season was 86 people per home game. One home game had a paid attendance of 2 people. The players who played on the 2000 Black Diamonds were also left without host families or hotels. To save money the team management paid for the team members to stay at a local campground for the season. A 4 part article about the team was written in 2001 and featured in ESPN the Magazine. Players from the 2000 team stated that about seventy percent of the players on the team lived in the campground that year. One player said that often the team would come home from a 5 hour bus ride at 4 in the morning and players would have to set up a tent in the pouring rain.
Finally after spending the 2001 season as an away team the Lehigh Valley franchise was officially disbanded. The team would now be renamed and taken over completely by the league until a replacement team could be found. The Lehigh Valley Multi-Purpose Sport Complex was demolished in early 2005, without ever hosting a single baseball game. In 2002, the team became the Pennsylvania Road Warriors.
Despite the failure of the Black Diamonds, as well as the Allentown Ambassadors, baseball in the Lehigh Valley is not lost forever. Beginning in the spring of 2008, the city of Allentown is the home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA franchise of the Philadelphia Phillies. The IronPigs play at the brand-new Coca-Cola Park, at the former Agere site in downtown Allentown.
The Road Warriors are named so because they play all of their games on the road, as they do not have a home ballpark. The 2002 Pennsylvania Road Warriors finished with a record of 34–91. The club was represented with OF Wil Quintana making the All Star team. Quintana hit .302 with 11 HRs in 55 games with the road club. 1B Pat Burns led Pennsylvania appearing 120 games with 441 ABs, 58 runs, 121 hits, 25 doubles and 40 walks. SP Tim Kester set a Road Warrior record with a 2.57 ERA.
The 2003 Pennsylvania squad finished 30–95. OF Jerry Amador led with 429 ABs and 53 runs, as well as hitting 18 HRs. IF Dario Delgado hit 22 HRs with a .289 Avg. C Mike Lopez-Cao and RP Eddy Ramos made the All Star team. OF Gary Johnson hit .321 in 72 games. On the final game of the season UT Asbel Ortiz played every position, in numerical order, from pitcher through right field.
The 2004 Pennsylvania Road Warriors finished with the worst record in Atlantic League history at 23–103. IF Brady Williams played in 117 games with 440 ABs, 121 hits, 57 runs, 15 HRs, and 49 RBIs. IF Edgar Tovar and SP Luis Arroyo were nominated to the Northern All Star team. Tovar hit .324 to lead Pennsylvania and Arroyo won 5 games. DH Branden Florence hit .345 in only 20 games with the team to be signed by the Baltimore Orioles.
The 2006 Road Warriors finished at 42–83. 1B Mike Huggins, SS Nick Ortiz, C Sandy Aracena, DH Manuel Mejia, and RP Melvin Pizarro were all nominated to the Northern Division All Star team. First Baseman Mike Huggins led the 2006 Road Warriors with 123 games, 443 ABs, 74 runs, 126 hits, 20 HRs, 69 RBIs, and 78 walks. OF Sheldon Fulse stole 50 bases for the team, Kyle Goldwater won 8 games and Melvin Pizarro saved 10 games.
The final season of the Road Warriors, in 2007, proved to be their most successful as they finished at 43–83. 1B Vito Chiaravalloti, IF David Housel, IF Gabe Suarez, C Sandy Aracena, P Emmanuel Ulloa were named to the All Star team. Chiaravalloti paced the line up hitting .296 with 19 home runs, 81 RBIs and recording 76 walks. OF Steven Doetsch was named to the Atlantic League Post Season All Star team by hitting .284 with 22 home runs and 65 RBIs. Former major league pitcher Carlos Castillo finished 8–9 with a 3.34 ERA. Another former MLB pitcher, Benito Baez, went 2–3 with 9 saves and a 2.08 ERA in 40 games. Baez struck out 45 batters in 43.1 innings of work.
Since the 2007 season a Road Warrior alum, LHP Alberto Castillo, made it to the big leagues with the Baltimore Orioles. Castillo pitched for the Warriors in 2006 and 2007 before being invited to spring training with the Orioles in 2008. Castillo quickly pitched his way up the system and appeared in 28 games with the O's going 1–0 with a 3.81 ERA and 23 strike outs.
42, Jackie Robinson, retired throughout baseball
- Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
- Atlantic League blog
- Atlantic League Independent
- Road Warriors Blog