Dave Schofield/Trenton Thunder
A daily feature of Indians Baseball Insider, Around the Farm, obviously won’t be able to be produced until there are minor league games played. In its place, for the time being, a fun feature we are going to try out is This Day in Indians Minor League History. We will do some research and try to find some interesting or random box scores or information that happened in the Indians minor leagues on this particular day. We will try to make this a daily feature as long as we can find something to post other than just repeating items from the last few years to avoid too much repetitiveness. Hope you enjoy, stay well and hope we can get baseball back soon!
April 10, 1997
Opening Day 1997 saw the return of professional baseball to Akron for the first time since the eve of America’s entry into World War II (The Akron Yankees of the long since discontinued Class C folded following the 1941 season). The Canton-Akron Indians had headed north the preceding offseason after eight seasons at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium one county to the south. A capacity crowd of 9,086 came out to witness the Indians’ Double-A affiliate’s first game as the Akron Aeros, with many more (including myself) watching on WBNX 55’s telecast of the historic contest.
The Aeros won easily, 13-2, over the Harrisburg Senators (the affiliate of the Montreal Expos – and still the affiliate of the now-Washington Nationals) behind the starting pitching performance of a phenom named Jaret Wright, who’s final start of the season would be on an even bigger stage (the seventh game of this little thing us baseball folk like to call the World Series).
While Senators designated hitter Rob Lukachyk earned the distinction of hitting the first base hit at the new ballyard, the Aeros earned all of the maiden extra-base hit honors as first baseman Greg Thomas hit the first double in the second inning and first triple in the seventh frame. Third baseman Todd Betts hit the first homer at the corner of State and Main in the fifth.
While it was the start of an unremarkable 51-90 season, it was also the start of an era of baseball in downtown Akron that will hopefully see its 24th season begin sometime this year. Notable major leaguers to come through Summit County in the nearly quarter-century of the Aeros/RubberDucks include Jesus Aguilar, Shane Bieber, Michael Brantley, Sean Casey, Yan Gomes, Cliff Lee, Francisco Lindor, Victor Martinez, Jose Ramirez, CC Sabathia, Carlos Santana, and Grady Sizemore.