Lehigh Valley IronPigs

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are a Minor League Baseball team of the International League (IL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. They are located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and are named in reference to pig iron, used in the manufacturing of steel, for which the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania is well known. The IronPigs play their home games at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Team logo Cap insignia
Minor league affiliations
ClassTriple-A (2008–present)
LeagueInternational League (2022–present)
DivisionEast Division
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
TeamPhiladelphia Phillies (2008–present)
Minor league titles
League titles (0)None
Division titles (1)
  • 2018
Wild card berths (3)
  • 2011
  • 2016
  • 2017
Team data
NameLehigh Valley IronPigs (2008–present)
ColorsFurnace blue, brick red, steel, white
       
MascotsFerrous and FeFe
BallparkCoca-Cola Park (2008–present)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Joseph Finley and Craig Stein
General managerKurt Landes
ManagerAnthony Contreras
MediaMiLB.TV and WTKZ AM 1320

Following the 2007 season, the Ottawa Lynx relocated to Allentown as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. In conjunction with Major League Baseball's reorganization of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the IronPigs were shifted to the Triple-A East, and returned to the International League in 2022.

Since their 2008 inaugural season, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have made four appearances in the International League Governors' Cup playoffs (2011, 2016, 2017, and 2018). In 2018, the IronPigs won their first Northern Division title with an 84–56 record, the highest winning percentage (.600) in franchise history, but the team has not yet won an International League championship.[1]

History

Coca-Cola Park, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the home field of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, April 2009

Before the IronPigs

Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley, has a professional baseball history dating back to 1884 with the Allentown Dukes of the original Eastern League. Though the city went through several stretches without a team, various other Minor League Baseball teams hailed from Allentown through 1960. The last of these were the Allentown Cardinals (1944–1956) and Allentown Red Sox (1958–1960).[2] The Red Sox played at Breadon Field (later called Max Hess Stadium) at the site where the Lehigh Valley Mall was later built.[3]

These affiliated clubs were followed by two independent baseball teams: the Allentown Ambassadors of the Northeast League and the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The Ambassadors played at Bicentennial Park in Allentown until the team was disbanded after the 2003 season.[2][3] The Black Diamonds moved from Newburgh, New York, in 1999 and were expected to move into a new ballpark near Easton called the Lehigh Valley Multi-Purpose Sport Complex, but the project never came to completion and ultimately was terminated. While the Black Diamonds waited for their new stadium, they played as a traveling team from 1999 to 2001.[4]

In 2003, Joseph Finley and Craig Stein began actively pursuing their interest in bringing affiliated baseball back to Allentown. Initially, the duo pursued a Class A franchise when the Ottawa Lynx, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles at the time, were rumored to be moving to Harrisburg. When the city of Harrisburg was unwilling to upgrade Commerce Bank Park to Triple-A standards, the Orioles shifted their interest to Allentown because of its proximity to the Mid-Atlantic. The Philadelphia Phillies also looked into moving their Triple-A operations to Allentown from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region. For the 2007 season, the Phillies shifted their Triple-A affiliate to Ottawa, leaving the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons after 18 seasons, while the Orioles affiliated with the Norfolk Tides. The Phillies signed a one-year Player Development Contract with the Lynx while the US$50.25-million Coca-Cola Park capable of seating up to 8,100 people with a total capacity of 10,000, was being constructed in Allentown.[5][6]

International League (2008–2020)

In 2017 Rhys Hoskins won both the International League MVP and International League Rookie of the Year awards while playing for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The Ottawa Lynx were relocated to Allentown in 2008 and continued as the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies in the International League (IL).[2] Known as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, their moniker, selected in a name-the-team contest, refers to the region's steelmaking history, in particular the refining of pig iron into steel. The other finalists were "Gobblers", "Crushers", "Phillies", "Phantastics", "Vulcans", "Keystones", and "Woodchucks".[5]

The IronPigs played their first Opening Day game on the road, losing to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 4–0, on April 3, 2008.[7] The team went on to lose their next 10 games. On April 14, Lehigh Valley broke the 11-game losing streak, defeating the Richmond Braves, 3–1, at their new home stadium, Coca-Cola Park.[7] They ended their inaugural season last of 14 teams in the IL at 55–89.[8] The next season, Justin Lehr became the first member of the team to win a league year-end award when he was selected as the International League's 2009 Most Valuable Pitcher.[9] On July 14, 2010, Coca-Cola Park hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game. In the event, which was broadcast nationally on MLB Network, a team of the IL's All-Stars defeated a team of the Pacific Coast League's All-Stars, 3–1.[10]

Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ryne Sandberg became manager of the IronPigs in 2011. On April 7, they won their season opener against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Coca-Cola Park, registering the first win–loss percentage above .500 in the team's history.[11] Sandberg led the club to an 80–64 record which, though not good enough to win the Northern Division title, gave them a wild card berth into the Governors' Cup playoffs for the International League championship. They won the semifinals over the Pawtucket Red Sox, 3–0, but lost the championship finals to the Columbus Clippers, 3–1.[12] Tyler Cloyd was selected as the Most Valuable Pitcher in 2012.[9]

From 2016 to 2018, Lehigh Valley made three consecutive appearances in the Governors' Cup playoffs. The 2016 wild-card winners set a season record for wins, with 85 against 58 losses, but were swept in three games by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.[13] Jake Thompson was the circuit's Most Valuable Pitcher.[9] The 2017 team won another wild card berth but was eliminated again by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 3–1.[14] Phillies prospect Rhys Hoskins was selected as the IL's 2017 Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year.[9]

In 2018, the IronPigs won their first Northern Division title with an 84–56 record, the highest winning percentage (.600) in franchise history, but were knocked out of the semifinals for the third year in a row by the RailRiders, 3–1.[1] Nevertheless, the IronPigs swept the International League awards with Joey Meneses as MVP and Rookie of the Year, Cole Irvin as the top pitcher, and Gary Jones as the Manager of the Year winner.[9]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before being cancelled on June 30.[15][16] Through 13 seasons in the International League, the IronPigs had a 855–861 record. They experienced more success at the turnstiles as their season attendance topped 500,000 people each season.[17] From 2008 to 2016, the team led Minor League Baseball with a per-game average attendance of 8,978.[18] In 2019, franchise was recognized with the Larry MacPhail Award for outstanding minor league promotions.[19]

Triple-A East / International League (2021–present)

Following the 2020 season, Major League Baseball assumed control of Minor League Baseball in a move to increase player salaries, modernize facility standards, and reduce travel. The Philadelphia Phillies retained Lehigh Valley as their Triple-A affiliate, but the International League disbanded, and the IronPigs followed the other IL teams into the Triple-A East.[20] Lehigh Valley ended the season in fourth place in the Northeastern Division with a 52–66 record.[21] No playoffs were held to determine a league champion; instead, the team with the best regular-season record was declared the winner.[22] However, 10 games that had been postponed from the start of the season were reinserted into the schedule as a postseason tournament called the Triple-A Final Stretch in which all 30 Triple-A clubs competed for the highest winning percentage.[22] The IronPigs finished the tournament in 30th place with a 1–9 record.[23] In 2022, the Triple-A East became known as the International League, the name historically used by the regional circuit prior to the 2021 reorganization.[24]

In August 2022, as Phillies' star right fielder Bryce Harper was designated to the IronPigs in a final step in his rehabilitation stint as part of his comeback from a fractured thumb, the IronPigs' games against the Gwinnett Stripers at Coca-Cola Park quickly sold out to the stadium's 10,100 capacity. In his August 23 appearance with the IronPigs, Harper homered twice against the Stripers.[25]

Broadcast coverage

Coca-Cola Park's home radio booth, April 2009

The IronPigs franchise broadcasts all of its home games on television, a rarity for a minor league team.[26] Local cable network SEN (The Service Electric Network) carries the IronPigs' games, covering most of the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania plus parts of Warren and Hunterdon Counties in northwestern New Jersey. In addition, SEN feeds the telecasts to Blue Ridge Cable TV-13 for broadcast to other areas in the eastern part of the state. In addition, select Saturday night home games are telecast on WFMZ-TV 69, which serves the Lehigh Valley as well as the northern Philadelphia market and western New Jersey. All IronPigs games, home and away, are also broadcast on WEEX, an Easton-based FOX Sports Radio affiliate.[27]

Radio

Television

Mascots

FeRROUS, one of two mascots for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, performs during the Seventh inning stretch at Coca-Cola Park, August 2018.

The IronPigs' mascots are a pair of furry anthropomorphic pigs, similar to Mangalicas, called FeRROUS and FeFe. Their names are derived from the Latin term for iron (ferrum) and the element's chemical symbol (Fe). FeRROUS, who has gray fur and a lighter gray face, wears an IronPigs jersey with the number 26 (the atomic number for iron), a team cap, and shoes. FeFe, who is also gray but with a tan face and brunette pigtails, wears a red jersey that extends into a skirt with the number 08, which commemorates the team's first season (2008), a team cap, and shoes.[28][29] The name "PorkChop" was originally chosen for FeRROUS, but it was changed the day after its selection because of complaints from local Puerto Rican residents alleging that Pork Chop was a derogatory term.[30]

Season-by-season records

Table key
League The team's final position in the league standings
Division The team's final position in the divisional standings
GB Games behind the team that finished in first place in the division that season
Class champions (2008–present)
League champions (2008–present)
* Division champions (2008–present)
^ Postseason berth (2008–present)
Season-by-season records
Season League Regular-season Postseason MLB affiliate Ref.
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2008 IL 55–89 .382 14th 6th 33 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [8]
2009 IL 71–73 .493 8th 3rd 11+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [31]
2010 IL 58–86 .403 13th 5th 29+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [32]
2011
^
IL 80–64 .556 4th 2nd 2 4–3 .571 Won wild card berth
Won semifnals vs. Pawtucket Red Sox, 3–0
Lost IL championship vs. Columbus Clippers, 3–1
Philadelphia Phillies [12]
2012 IL 75–68 .524 5th 3rd 8+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [33]
2013 IL 72–72 .500 7th 4th 8+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [34]
2014 IL 66–78 .458 11th 6th 15+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [35]
2015 IL 63–81 .438 12th 5th 18 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [36]
2016
^
IL 85–58 .594 2nd 2nd 6 0–3 .000 Won wild card berth
Lost semifnals vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 3–0[13]
Philadelphia Phillies [37]
2017
^
IL 80–62 .563 3rd (tie) 2nd (tie) 6+12 1–3 .250 Won wild card berth
Lost semifnals vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 3–1[14]
Philadelphia Phillies [38]
2018
*
IL 84–56 .600 1st 1st 1–3 .250 Won Northern Division title
Lost semifnals vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 3–1[1]
Philadelphia Phillies [39]
2019 IL 66–74 .471 9th (tie) 5th 9+12 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [40]
2020 IL Season cancelled (COVID-19 pandemic)[16] Philadelphia Phillies [41]
2021 AAAE 52–66 .441 14th 4th 19+12 1–9 .100 No playoffs held Philadelphia Phillies [21]
2022 IL 76–72 .514 7th (tie) 4th (tie) 9 Did not qualify Philadelphia Phillies [42]
Totals 983–999 .496 7–21 .250

Roster

Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

  • 13 Trey Cobb
  • 51 Hans Crouse
  • 17 Colton Eastman
  • 62 Jakob Hernandez
  • 68 Damon Jones
  • 35 Zach Linginfelter
  • 67 Brian Marconi
  •  8 Griff McGarry
  • 33 Erik Miller
  • 31 Jack Perkins
  • -- Tyler Phillips
  • -- Yoniel Ramirez
  • 35 Matt Seelinger
  • 25 Noah Skirrow
  • 39 Zach Warren

Catchers

  • 40 Vito Friscia
  • 94 Cody Roberts

Infielders

  •  5 Cam Cannon
  • 74 Oliver Dunn
  • 75 Pedro Martinez
  • 23 Madison Stokes
  • 10 Will Toffey

Outfielders


Manager

  • 28 Anthony Contreras

Coaches

  • 22 Aaron Barrett (bullpen)
  • 50 Greg Brodzinski (bench)
  • 25 Bill Greenfield (development)
  • 27 Cesar Ramos (pitching)
  • 30 Joe Thurston (hitting)


7-day injured list
* On Philadelphia Phillies 40-man roster
~ Development list
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporarily inactive list
Roster updated December 9, 2022
Transactions
→ More rosters: MiLB  International League
→ Philadelphia Phillies minor league players

Awards

Jake Thompson, then playing with the IronPigs, won the International League Most Valuable Pitcher Award in 2016 and was also named to the 2016 post-season International League All-Star team.
Cody Asche, then playing with the IronPigs, was selected to the 2013 International League post-season All-Star team.
César Hernández was named to the 2013 International League post-season All-Star team while playing with the IronPigs.

The franchise has been awarded the following honors by Minor League Baseball:[19]

Minor League Baseball Awards
Award Season Ref.
Larry MacPhail Award 2019[19]

Six players, one manager, and one executive have won league awards in recognition for their performance with Lehigh Valley.[9]

International League Awards
Award Recipient Season Ref.
Most Valuable Player Rhys Hoskins 2017[9]
Most Valuable Player Joey Meneses 2018[9]
Most Valuable Pitcher Justin Lehr 2009[9]
Most Valuable Pitcher Tyler Cloyd 2012[9]
Most Valuable Pitcher Jake Thompson 2016[9]
Most Valuable Pitcher Cole Irvin 2018[9]
Rookie of the Year Rhys Hoskins 2017[9]
Rookie of the Year Joey Meneses 2018[9]
Manager of the Year Gary Jones 2018[9]
Executive of the Year Kurt Landes 2009[9]
Executive of the Year Kurt Landes 2010[9]

Nine IronPigs have been named to postseason all-star teams.

International League Postseason All-Stars
Season Player Position Ref.
2009 Andy Tracy Outfielder[43]
2012 Tyler Cloyd Starting pitcher[44]
2013 Cody Asche Third baseman[45]
2013 César Hernández Second baseman[45]
2015 Brian Bogusevic Outfielder[46]
2016 Edward Mujica Relief pitcher[47]
2016 Jake Thompson Starting pitcher[47]
2017 Pedro Beato Relief pitcher[48]
2018 Pedro Beato Relief pitcher[49]
2018 Mitch Walding Third baseman[49]

See also

  • Sports in Allentown, Pennsylvania

References

  1. "2018 International League". Stats Crew. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  2. "Allentown, Pennsylvania Encyclopedia". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  3. Sheehan, Dan; Hart, Jay (July 1, 2005). "Will Baseball Be Very, Very Good to the Valley With a AAA Team?". The Morning Call. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  4. "Investors Step up to Plate in Diamonds Deal". Philadelphia Business Journal. February 4, 2002. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  5. Sheehan, Dan (November 12, 2006). "It's the...IRONPIGS". The Morning Call. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  6. Isherwood, Darryl R. (October 25, 2008). "Stadium's Final Cost Hits $50.25 Million". The Morning Call. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  7. "Lehigh Valley IronPigs History" (PDF). Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Minor League Baseball. 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  8. "2008 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  9. "International League Award Winners". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  10. "Triple-A All-Star Game Results (2008–2012)". Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  11. Schuler, Jeff (April 8, 2011). "IronPigs Open Season, Make History". The Morning Call. Allentown. p. Sports 1 via Newspapers.com.
  12. "2011 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  13. "2016 International League". Stats Crew. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  14. "2017 International League". Stats Crew. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  15. "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  16. "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  17. "International League Attendance". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  18. "IronPigs Draw Over 600,000 Fans, Set Record". Ballpark Digest. September 14, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  19. "Minor League Baseball Award Winners". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  20. Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  21. "2021 Triple-A East Standings". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  22. "MiLB Announces 'Triple-A Final Stretch' for 2021". Minor League Baseball. July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  23. "2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Standings". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  24. "Historical League Names to Return in 2022". Minor League Baseball. March 16, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  25. "Lehigh Valley is embracing Bryce Harper for as long as he's there", Philly Voice, August 25, 2022
  26. Bresswein, Kurt (February 18, 2021). "IronPigs Announce 2021 Games in Retooled League, but Can Fans Attend?". Lehigh Valley Live. Advance Local Media. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  27. "Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Baseball on Lehigh Valley Fox Sports". Fox Sports Radio 94.7 FM & 1230 AM. May 5, 2021. Retrieved August 20, 2022.
  28. "Ferrous and FeFe". Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  29. "IronPigs Mascot Appearances". Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  30. ""PorkChop" Mascot Inflames Pa. Fans". CBS News. CBS/Associated Press. December 4, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  31. "2009 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  32. "2010 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  33. "2012 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  34. "2013 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  35. "2014 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  36. "2015 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  37. "2016 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  38. "2017 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  39. "2018 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  40. "2019 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  41. Wagaman, Andrew (June 30, 2020). "Minor League Baseball Season Officially Canceled; Ironpigs Promise 'Best Season Ever' in 2021". The Morning Call. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  42. "2022 International League". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  43. Wild, Danny (September 1, 2009). "Duncan Named International League MVP". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  44. "Cloyd Honored as IL's Most Valuable Pitcher". Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Minor League Baseball. August 28, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  45. "Colabello Headlines IL All-Star Team". International League. Minor League Baseball. August 27, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  46. "Bisons' Hague leads 2015 IL All-Stars". Minor League Baseball. September 1, 2015. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  47. "RailRiders' Gamel Leads 2016 IL All-Stars". Minor League Baseball. August 30, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  48. "MVP Hoskins Headlines IL All-Stars". Minor League Baseball. August 30, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  49. "MVP Meneses Headlines IL All-Stars". Minor League Baseball. August 28, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
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