Twenty-five years ago, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons stepped on the field for the first time. In honor of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise’s 25th year anniversary, The Times Leader is counting down the Top 25 memorable moments in its history every week until the end of the season. All three teams — Red Barons, Yankees and RailRiders — are represented on the list as put together by the staff of The Times Leader. There’s sure to be some debate here as well, which makes it that much more fun.
Shelley Duncan used to hold the record for most home runs in a season for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise. That was short-lived and was broken in 2011.
However, he could go down as the most prolific power hitter in franchise history for smashing 67 home runs in 272 games over parts of three seasons. But he doesn’t hold that mark either.
What he does have the distinction of holding is the mark for the best season ever by a hitter in the 25-year history of the SWB franchise.
In 2009, Duncan became the second player in franchise history to win the International League Most Valuable Player award when he slammed a then-club mark of 30 home runs. He led the I.L. in longballs, RBI (99), extra-base hits (61), runs scored (85) and total bases (247) even though he was with New York for a part of the summer, and missed 20 SWB Yankee games. He also amassed an impressive .370 on base percentage and .546 slugging percentage for a .916 OPS, while holding a batting average of .277.
His home run mark was later broken by Jorge Vazquez in 2011, when the slugger went deep 32 times. Duncan however, has something that Vasquez does not – a Governors’ Cup championship.
A year prior to his MVP year, Duncan helped the Yankees to the league title when they knocked off Durham to win the championship. In that season, Duncan hit 12 homers in just 58 games for SWB because he spent a large chunk of that season in the Bronx as well.
“I had some great experiences that I can look back on and really enjoy,” Duncan said to The Times Leader in a 2011 interview. “Very fond of my time in that organization.”
While Duncan won the league’s MVP in 2009, outfielder Austin Jackson won some hardware as well, being named the IL Rookie of the Year. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre joined the 1995 Norfolk Tides as the only teams to have the league MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
Duncan started 2014 spring training in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The 34-year-old Duncan was released in late March by the D’Backs. Last month, he signed with the Reds and was playing in the International League with Louisville before being released last week.s