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“We sucked but it was the funnest year of my life.” Peter Bifone talks about the evolution of the Yonkers Hoot Owls

This is one of the most bizarre stories that the MLB has to offer. The Yonkers Hoot Owls was a baseball team that was operational for only one season in 1995, a team based in Yonkers, New York. They played in the Independent Northeast League for as long as they existed. The home ground of ‘YHO’ was an all-dirt ground known as the Fleming Field today. It housed only a few spectators, every matchday.

The Hoot Owls sat at the last position in the Independent Northeast League’s standings at the end of the season. They were also at the bottom of the table in terms of overall attendance numbers. The players and the coaching staff of the team used to mow the grass on the field themselves. However, amidst all the insanity, the members of this team formed friendships that would last a lifetime. “We sucked,” says first baseman Peter Bifone. “But it was the funnest year of my life.”

The members of Yonkers Hoot Owls reminisce about the days:

Larry Massaroni, a former Blue Jays scout who served as the league’s director of player development, said that they all wanted to “make it work”. Referring to the Yonkers Hoot Owls. “We all put our real-life experiences into it,” said Massaroni.

Yonkers Hoot Owls

Everything in Fleming Field, from the plumbing to the lights, was arranged from somewhere by the members of the team and management. “My family were all firemen and policemen,” Massaroni says. “So my cousin Hank provided water from the hydrants to wet down the field.” Bifone reminisced about the lights in Fleming Field. He said, “The lights were so low. If they hit a pop fly, you couldn’t see the ball. Thank God for the infield fly rule.”

Yonkers GM Randye Ringler comments about the assembling of the team:

“Everything was done on the fly,” said Ringler “It was not the way you want to run a team. But if you didn’t have to worry about money or having a future career, it was quite the experience.” There were a lot of rocks in the infield of Fleming Field. She was the one who had to tend to it by buying materials from the nearby home depot to make an infield dry mat.

Fleming Field

Fleming Field, once the home to the Yonkers Hoot Owls

The Yonkers Hoot Owls could not continue to play in the Independent Northeast League because of financial constraints. However, they will forever go down in history as the team with the shortest ever stint in the minor leagues.

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