Mel’s Sport History: Watertown Indians’ championship season

Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 8:05 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - An item caught my eye earlier this week. The New York-Penn League, a short season pro baseball league, has ceased operations after 80 years of existence.

One of the teams involved, the Staten Island Yankees, is suing parent club New York along with Major League Baseball because of the decision.

The Staten Island Yankees is the former franchise of the Watertown Indians that moved to Staten Island in 1999.

Watertown was part of the New York-Penn League from 1983 to 1998, first with the Pirates and then the Indians.

In this sports history lesson for tonight, it was with the Cleveland organization that Watertown would win its only New York-Penn League title.

The Cleveland Indians moved their New York-Penn League affiliate to Watertown in 1989. That would start a 10-year run for the Indians in Watertown that lasted until 1998.

The Watertown Indians made four playoff appearances but it was inn 1995 that Watertown would win the New York-Penn League championship behind future major league all-star Sean Casey.

The Indians defeated the Vermont expos to win the league title, the clinching game on September 10, 1995.

Former major league catcher Joel Skinner was the manager that year, leading his team to a 46 and 27 mark.

The Indians drew 45,000 total at the fairgrounds that season. Over 10 seasons in Watertown, the tribe had just two losing campaigns.

The one thing I remember about that championship was that the Indians clinched the title on the road -- no championship celebration in the city the players called home that year.

The team bused back to the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds, cleared out their lockers and then left town.

For those of us who remember that team 25 years ago, it will always be remembered as that championship season.

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