In 1988, the Rochester Red Wings won the Governor’s Cup championship under the helm of Johnny Oates and a team that included young guns like Steve Finley (would lead the league in batting, Pete Harnisch and Craig Worthington (who would be that year’s IL MVP) as well as veterans like Dale Berra and Jerry Narron, all while dealing with plenty of movement between AAA and the Orioles, who were infamously in the middle of their worst season ever. And while they lost a AAA championship with the American Association champion Indianapolis Indians, it remained the Red Wings’ first IL title since 1974.
So, it makes sense that that would be on the front of the following year’s program. Oh, it’s sort of bland, but it gets the message across: The Red Wings were defending champions!
Now, this program I have is a bit beaten up, and is missing a few pages, but most of it is intact, so go below the jump to read about what was in the 1989 Red Wings program, and click on any picture to make it bigger:
So What Was In It?: Here’s the table of contents for the 1989 program….
As you can see, this is much bigger than the ’81 program’s table of contents, which was only one page and featured only four pictures. Some of the features from the ’81 program were still around, such as a look at the Orioles’ overall minor league system and an overview of the IL in general, but several others were added. There are also more story pieces, no doubt made possible by the fact that the ’89 program was nearly 100 pages longer than the one in 1981.
In color!: This is a lot more colorful of a program than 1981. It still is nowhere near the amount of color you see in today’s programs, but a good chunk of the front and a bit of back of the book has color, although mainly for advertisements, like this Dave Winfield ad for Ray-Bans:
L’il Lewin: One of the contributors to this program was Josh Lewin, who now does radio broadcasts for the defending National League Champion New York Mets (that’s still weird to type), the San Diego Chargers, and on TV for the Big Ten Network. Lewin at the time was already three years into his stint of doing at least some radio work for the Red Wings, having started at the age of 17, if I’m doing my math right. By comparison, Vin Scully waited until he was in college to get into radio work. Of course, Josh Lewin is going to have to be covering baseball until the 2050s to match the years that Scully has worked, so unless Lewin already has decided he intends to be broadcasting until then, point for the Voice of the Dodgers.
Oh, and this is what Josh Lewin (who’s Twitter bio includes the line “near-total dork”) looked like in the 1980s. Apologies to Josh Lewin, should he or anyone he knows be reading this:
Among the pieces Lewin did was a profile of his fellow broadcaster Jay Colley, who let it be known where the best and worst food, press boxes, and cities were (apologies for the bad scan on the sides- my scanner wasn’t big enough):
Future Stars: Also unlike the 1981 program, this program has player profiles- with sometimes blunt scouting reports! Among those in the ’89 program….
In addition, every manager in the IL and American Association got little write-ups, like Terry Collins, who was the Buffalo skipper at the time (apologies for the bad scan):
There aren’t as many statements that look weird in hindsight as there were in the 1981 program. However, there is an entire section on the “Alliance” between the International League and the American Association, who had entered into an agreement the involved some interleague play as well as a post-season Championship series. They even had a drawing of what the trophy would look like:
An article about the Alliance in the program seems to indicate that they thought it would exist for awhile. Well… it didn’t. It ended after the 1991 season, and the American Association would dissolve after 1997, with it’s western teams joining the Pacific Coast League and it’s eastern teams joining the IL.
Again, the lifeblood of the minor league team. Here’s what the Red Wings had in 1989:
Among the things that catch my eye in these include an appearance by one of the Flying Wallendas, a “Hitkerchief” giveaway, replica championship rings, a night where fans could pick a Yankee or Met cap, the Chicken, and an “Olympic Game Night” where fans and apparently players could be contestants. Also, as far as I can tell no bobble-heads were given out and there still were nowhere near as many fireworks nights as there are now.
Still Hanging Around: Fred Costello, of course, who by 1989 had begun his lists page in the program, which still show up every year in Rochester yearbooks, often recycling some of the same jokes. Here’s what it looked like in 1989:
The people who Fred asked about their most favorite piece of baseball memorabilia are interesting in that many of the names still would ring a bell to current Rochesterians: Bob Matthews (a longtime sports columnist who still is active online and on the radio), Doug Emblidge (TV anchor), Bill Pucko (longtime sports newsman in the area), Rich Funke (a journalist who is now a state senator), J.C Delass (who now calls many local college events on WYSL), Andy Meloni (a Monroe County sheriff who passed away earlier this year) and Gary Larder (a longtime member of the Red Wings Board of Directors). There’s also Johnny Antonelli, probably the greatest Rochester born-and-raised baseball player of all time.
Also still hanging around: the Frederick Keys. They are mentioned in the overview of the Orioles system as their then-new high-A-ball affiliate. They are the only club in the 1989 season that retains an affiliation with the Orioles. In fact, only Rochester, Frederick and Bluefield still even have teams in their same league as they did in 1989: Hagerstown (a AA affiliate in ’89) is now a low-A city, Erie (a NYPL team in ’89) now has a AA team in the Eastern League, and Waterloo (which the Orioles shared with the Padres in 1989) doesn’t have a team at all!
How Times Have Changed:
There are at least three advertisements in the program that you’d probably never see (or at least see fewer of) these days due to their more adult connotations:
Computers at the time were still being used for…. stuff that most people don’t use computers for anymore, unless they are at work:
Oh, and then there’s The Dugout, which I’m only including in this because I remember getting baseball cards from there as a kid:
Random stuff that caught my eye:
Mike Jones is noted as being the first Rochester born-and-raised Red Wing since the early 1970s:
So how did that season go?
The 1989 Red Wings would go on to finish 72-73, 11 games back of Syracuse in the IL’s East division. Curt Schilling would tie for the IL lead in wins with 13. He, Harnisch and Finley, all of whom spent at least some time with the 1989 Red Wings, would later be traded to the Houston Astros for Glenn Davis, in what is considered the worst trade in the history of the Baltimore Orioles.
Next Time: Into the 90s!
Previous Programs Of The Past: