Real gem returns to roots

June 25th, 2015 9:12 am

First Posted: 4/27/2013

MOOSIC – If you’ve been to the reconstructed PNC Field so far this season you have probably noticed members of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders staff keeping things tidy.

It’s not just the ushers or field staff that are doing the dirty work as front office personnel have got into the act as well.

One of those members is Jeremy Ruby, the team’s Executive Vice President of Operations.

“The building is kinda my baby, so I want it to be the greatest experience for every night for anyone walking in here,” Ruby said. “Every night, there’s first-time individuals coming through the ballpark so I want them to see and view it in perfect condition. It’s just my mentality.

“It’s just the way we think and act around here. It’s a professional facility with professional individuals running it so it’s important for us to keep a good product.”

Ruby, who resides in Eynon, has a long history with the stadium — possibly the most of any other person currently employed by the RailRiders.

Glory days

It started on a day in June 1994 when Ruby was playing high school baseball for Valley View and helped his team to the District 2 championship with a win over Dallas. Ruby smacked a home run during that day, mere hours after learning he was selected by the California Angels in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft earlier in the day.

“It was one of those days I will never forget, it’s one of the top 10 days in my lifetime,” Ruby added.

When his playing career didn’t pan out as well as he had hoped, Ruby began working for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons as a baseball operations intern in 1998 after graduating from East Stroudsburg University.

He climbed the organizational ladder eventually becoming General Manager in 2005 and being named Executive Vice President/General Manager when the franchise changed hands to the New York Yankees in 2007.

But in 2010, Ruby stepped away from the team and spent time as director of athletics and development at Abington Heights High School. He was away from the organization for 16 months prior to returning last July.

And things couldn’t be better for the 36-year-old.

“The ballpark is beautiful. If I didn’t come back, it would be the biggest mistake of my life,” he said. “This is truly the greatest experience to work in a facility like this and now to share it with not only the RailRiders fans but the community here in Lackawanna, Luzerne and surrounding counties it’s just an awesome feeling.”

A family passion

Besides being involved in the sport for nearly his whole life, Ruby has family who have been around it as well.

His father is Gary Ruby, a veteran pitching coach in the minors. He just started his 27th season in Minor League Baseball earlier this month as mentor to the pitchers for Houston’s Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The older Ruby was drafted as well, being selected by Cleveland in 1969. He advanced to Double-A as a pitcher before an injury hampered his playing career.

“He’s been everything to me,” Jeremy said of his father. “He taught me everything I know about not only how to play the game, but how to grow within the game and ultimately to get me to a job like this. So I’ve learned everything from him. I owe it all to my dad.”

There’s more baseball ties to the family.

Joe Paparella, who was a long-time umpire in the American League from 1946-65, was Gary’s grandfather, and Jeremy’s great grandfather. Paparella worked four World Series, getting the nod in 1948, 1951, 1957 and 1963. He also umpired four All-Star Games, being selected in 1948, 1954, 1959 and 1964.

In what would be a very competitive family atmosphere for most with that much knowledge, Jeremy said it wasn’t like that at all.

“It wasn’t so competitive, it was more long distance (with my father) but we worked together on it no matter what.”

Jeremy and his wife Maria have two children, Dante and Marco.