Ghosts of the Minors smell like roses with this club
Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick
Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick romp through the true story of the real Minors team.
Your high school history teacher probably mentioned the Wars of the Roses, but that musty old fussbudget may have failed to inform you that the conflict bled onto no fewer than four Minor League circuits. Fortunately, Ghosts of the Minors is here to educate you on baseball's Lancaster Red Roses.
Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from the early years of the 20th century into the Kennedy administration, the Red Roses took their name from the House of Lancaster and its floral symbol during the 30-plus year series of civil wars for the English throne.
If you think it's impossible for a Minor League team to have taken its identity from a 15th-century civil war in another country, may the crown grant you clemency for your error! There were, in fact, two such teams.
As it was in the bloody fallout of the rule of a feeble monarch at the close of the Middle Ages, so it was in the Minors over several decades in the States: the Lancaster Red Roses had an archrival in the York White Roses. The two clubs duked it out in the Tri-State League, the Interstate League, the Piedmont League and the Eastern League.
Over their long history -- long for a baseball team, that is, if not a British dynasty -- the Lancaster Red Roses were never known to wilt, reigning as league champs six times. They were subject to affiliations with six Major League teams (although, notably, not with the Royals) and counted among their numbers such princes of baseball as Stan Coveleski, Nellie Fox, George Kell, and as a manager, Johnny Pesky.
But perhaps the crowning moment came during an Interstate League Finals game against the White Roses in 1943, when another historic war affected the rivalry. The two clubs waited through a blackout delay after air sirens sounded, then waited another 20 minutes to find another second base bag -- the original was stolen in the dark.
Lancaster went on to win the series, and the war; then three-peated in the Interstate League from that season through 1945. But just as the House of Lancaster and the House of York were united under Tudor rule, the Red Roses and White Roses were eventually united in one-door rule as both franchises exited the Minors.
And that is the dirt on the Red Roses.
Josh Jackson is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JoshJacksonMiLB.