Now Available ... The Class of '93

There have been thousands of minor league baseball teams since the start of the 20th century. Which one was the best ever, well, that always has been open to debate. There is one team that needs to be included in any argument.

That team would be the 1993 Harrisburg Senators, a collection of top prospects the talent-rich Montreal Expos put together in one place at one time to see what would happen.

Would they dominate the Eastern League, a Class AA league annually filled with some of baseball's best prospects? Or would they collapse under the weight of their egos and others' expectations?

No one truly knew coming out of spring training that season.

The game's history, regardless of level, has been loaded with dream teams that inexplicably turned into nightmares before season's end.

The 1993 Harrisburg Senators were such a dream team, a team that trashed an entire league on its way to a championship.

The Class of '93 is their story, of how a bunch of alpha males checked their egos at the clubhouse door and turned their own expectations into reality.

Take a Peek Inside

Here's a sample of what The Class of '93 is all about:

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Still Available... 30 For The Books

Since the first pro baseball game between Cleveland and Fort Wayne was played on May 4, 1871, more than 1,500 cities, towns and burgs throughout North America have fielded teams either in the major or minor leagues. Some places hosted a team for only one season, others infinitely longer.

All have had one common denominator: Numbers. Followed by more numbers and then even more numbers after them. Statistics all.

No different in Harrisburg, Pa., where aspiring major leaguers have spent the last three decades playing on one patch of grass in the middle of the Susquehanna River.

30 For the Books is a 165-page look into the numbers following the first pitch from Jim Neidlinger in the Senators' first game on the second Saturday in April 1987, the day of the rebirth of a franchise dormant for 35 years.

Some of those numbers were, and remain, impressive on any level.

Some, of course, have long been forgotten. Until now.

They all are the byproducts of sifting through 4,337 boxscores that represent every regular season and postseason game the Harrisburg Senators have played over the first 30 seasons of their modern era.

Harrisburg's previously checkered, on-again, off-again history in the game from 1890 through 1952 is not part of this statistical tome. Too many boxscores from that era are incomplete. Some do not exist at all.

No worries. What the Senators have done since their return in 1987 can fill a book. Just like this one.

Take a Peek Inside

Here's a sample of what 30 For the Books is all about. Take a peek.

Also Still Available... Clippings

The 2012 book One Patch of Grass by award-winning Andrew Linker takes a peek into the lives of the Hall of Famers, all-stars, no-stars, wanna-bes and never-weres who since 1890 have summered on a baseball field in the middle of Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River.

That book was filled with in-depth stories trumpeting the careers of Hall of Famers from the past in Oscar Charleston and of the future in Vladimir Guerrero, while also chronicling the lives of those whose careers in the game were derailed by racism, politics and injuries.

Clippings, published in 2013, isn't like that.

Mostly because this is a book devoid of stories.

Clippings is a companion piece for One Patch of Grass, a chance to augment Harrisburg's free-flowing baseball history presented in that book with a plethora of quotes, notes, milestone dates and some anecdotes -- nearly 1,300 in all -- that could not be squeezed into the first book.

Basically, it's a slice of cold pizza in the morning and, really, who doesn't like a slice of cold pizza in the morning?

Take a Peek Inside

For more on Clippings, here's a peek or two.

Limited Quantities Remain ... One Patch of Grass

For more than 100 years, minor league baseball has been played in hundreds of cities, towns and 'burgs from Maine to California. And, every one of those cities, towns and 'burgs from Orchard Park to Rancho Cucamonga has shared a commonality of great moments on the field, oddball occurrences off the field and encounters with hundreds of players who have passed through on their way either to starring in the major leagues or, more likely, to toiling in 9-to-5 jobs in the real world.

Only one place can claim a uniqueness of its own, a place where one-of-a-kind moments have occurred on the same patch of grass since 1890.

The place: City Island, a 63-acre parcel of land that sits in the Susquehanna River, a short walk from downtown Harrisburg to the grandstand behind home plate. Fans today can look upon a field where, plus or minus a foot or two in location and elevation, baseball has been played in the same spot as it was in 1890, when Frank Grant and Hughie Jennings became the first pair of black-and-white teammates who eventually were inducted into the Hall of Fame; in 1928, when Babe Ruth umpired a kids' game in the afternoon before homering on the same field later that day; in 1952, when Eleanor Engle became the first woman to sign a pro baseball contract; and in 1999, when Milton Bradley – the player, not the board game company – launched a Hollywood moment of a homer that was beyond anything Bernard Malamud ever conceived for his fictional Roy Hobbs.

Their stories, and dozens more, are profiled in the book One Patch of Grass.

Take a Peek Inside

Here's a sample of One Patch of Grass, this one is on wunderkind pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Click here to take a peek.

The Reviews Are In for One Patch of Grass

People have been talking about One Patch of Grass since the book's release in May 2012. Here is what some of the critics have to say:

Take a Photo Tour of Harrisburg's Rich Baseball History

  1. Albert "Chief" Bender pitches for the semi-pro Harrisburg Athletic Club in 1902 before starting his Hall of Fame career in the majors with the Philadelphia A's

  2. 1908 Harrisburg Giants with Spottswood Poles (1st row, 2nd from right)

    Photo courtesy of Reid Poles
  3. A view from center field on City Island 100 years ago

  4. Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston is the Harrisburg Giants' player-manager from 1924-27

  5. 1936 flood puts City Island and its ballpark, lower right, under water

  6. Philadelphia Athletics owner and manager Connie Mack, left, and Harrisburg Senators manager Les Bell before an exhibition game on City Island in 1940

  7. Pro baseball returns to City Island in 1940

  8. Max Patkin makes his debut as the Clown Prince of Baseball in 1946 on City Island

  9. Satchel Paige on the Island in the early 1950s

  10. The ballpark in the early 1950s

  11. Willie Mays plays for Trenton in 1950 and hits one of his four home runs that summer on City Island against the old Senators

  12. Eleanor Engle pictured shortly after becoming the first woman to sign a baseball contract in 1952

  13. Brooks Lawrence becomes the first former Senators pitcher selected to the All-Star Game for Cincinnati in 1956

  14. City Island under water during the 1972 flood

  15. Construction of RiverSide Stadium in the winter of 1986-1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  16. With general manager Rick Redd looking on, David Ellis shows off his tickets as the Senators' first customer in 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  17. Aerial view of Opening Day 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  18. The Senators' first Opening Day program in 1987

  19. Jim Neidlinger delivers a pitch on Opening Day 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  20. Batting practice in 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  21. View from center field in 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  22. The Senators play before another packed house in 1987

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  23. The Eastern League championship trophy; the Senators win six of them from 1987-99

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  24. Moises Alou plays on the island during the 1989 and '90 seasons before amassing 2,134 hits and 332 home runs in a major league career that includes six appearances in the All-Star Game

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  25. Pitcher Randy Tomlin and third baseman John Wehner in 1990

    Harrisburg Senators photo
  26. Matt Stairs bats during his MVP season in 1991

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  27. Joey Eischen wins 14 games in 1993

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  28. Eastern League MVP Cliff Floyd takes a lead off third base in 1993

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  29. The Senators' dugout lineup card from Game 5 of the 1993 EL finals

  30. The Senators celebrate the 1993 Eastern League championship in Canton, Ohio

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  31. Actor Dennis Haysbert warms up for the 1993 shooting of "Major League II" on City Island

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  32. Mark Grudzielanek hits for the Senators in 1994 Eastern League playoffs

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  33. Vladamir Guerrero takes BP in 1996

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  34. Before bringing his eyebrows-to-ankles strike zone to the major leagues, Vladimir Guerrero is golfing pitches for hits in 1996 on City Island

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  35. Preseason flooding in 1997

  36. Manager Rick Sofield gets a ride after the Senators win 1997 Easter League title

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  37. Michael Barrett hits on City Island during Harrisburg's 1998 championship season

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  38. Geoff Blum during the 1998 season, when he hits for the ultra-rare natural cycle in City Island

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  39. The Senators celebrate winning the 1998 Eastern League title at Portland

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  40. Milton Bradley at his worst in 1999

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  41. Milton Bradley at his best in 1999

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  42. Teammates swarm Milton Bradley at the plate after his game-winning grand slam

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  43. Milton Bradley returns a hero in 2000

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  44. Stuffing the manager's office at Reading in 2000

    Photo courtesy of Bryan Hebson
  45. Pitcher Cliff Lee as a Senator in 2002

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  46. The official boxscore signed by Seung Song from his controversial no-hitter in 2003

  47. Ryan Zimmerman makes new fans in 2005

    Photo courtesy of Harrisburg Senators
  48. The ballpark in 2013

    Photo by Andrew Linker
  49. Wilmer Difo bats for Harrisburg in 2015 on his way to the majors

    Photo by Andrew Linker
  50. Austin Voth pitches for the Senaors in 2015

    Photo by Andrew Linker

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About the Author

Andrew Linker is an award-winning sports writer who has spent more than 30 years working for newspapers and magazines up and down the Susquehanna River with most of that time spent covering the Harrisburg Senators after their return to City Island in 1987. He and his wife Michelle and their daughter, Annie, live exactly 19.8 miles from home plate on Harrisburg City Island, about the same distance some old-timers claim Babe Ruth hit his homer against the Senators in a 1928 exhibition game on the island.

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