DURHAM, N.C. — When the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders punched their ticket to the Governors’ Cup Finals after beating the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, Dick Devans knew he couldn’t miss it.
He had booked a flight to Durham by Monday afternoon.
Devans, a 67-year-old Hanover Township resident and Kingston native, is a game day assistant with the RailRiders. He drove to Lawrenceville, Ga., last year to watch Scranton/Wilkes-Barre capture the Governors’ Cup in four games against the Gwinnett Braves, then to Memphis to watch the RailRiders clinch the Triple-A National Championship.
“It was a no-brainer to come to Durham because, what we’re talking about here, we’ll take it one step at a time — winning back-to-back Governors’ Cups is still not something that is frequently done … ,” Devans said.
If the RailRiders are going to accomplish that, they will have to do much better than Tuesday’s 6-0 loss in Game 1. The offense managed only three hits.
Devans has owned season tickets since the franchise switched affiliates from the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Yankees in 2007. In his second season as an assistant, his duties range from line score operator, pitch clock operator and scoreboard stats operator on any given night.
Devans moved into a part-time role ahead of the 2016 season after the team learned of his faithful and “meticulous” stat-keeping during his decade as a season-ticket holder and RailRiders fan.
“I’ve never discarded (a scorecard from) a single game that I’ve witnessed, but I think from that, somebody got the idea in the RailRiders organization that I was pretty serious and they might be able to use me,” Devans said. “That’s what it grew out of.”
Not only does it help him keep pace with the game, but it’s also nod to his grandfather.
“My granddad loved baseball,” said an emotional Devans. “I score games today because of my granddad, because every time I score a game, I think of my granddad. I miss him to this day, and he lives on because I’m closer to the game because of him.”
RailRiders manager Al Pedrique stood outside his office before Tuesday night’s game, eager for the start of what could be an historic run for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
With a series win over the Bulls, the RailRiders can become the first team to play on its home field in the Triple-A National Championship game and would be the first back-to-back Governors’ Cup champions since the 2010-11 Columbus Clippers.
“Any time you’re still playing games in September, that’s a great feeling. I don’t care what level you’re at,” Pedrique said. “I always said it — this game is fun, you work hard right from February and this is the reason why you work hard for four, five, six months. To get to this point and enjoy ourselves.
“In particular, myself, to get a chance to be in another final, in back-to-back years, it’s great. It means that you have a good coaching staff, you have good players, a lot of ups and downs, but the key is to stay positive, believe in your players and your staff, and you move on.”