When this scorebook showed up in the mail this week, I assumed it was from Newark, the hardscrabble New Jersey across the Hudson from Manhattan. But upon further review, it turns out that this program is from the small town of Newark in Western New York (pop. 9,500) which hosted New York-Penn League baseball for a dozen seasons from 1968 to 1979.
The ball club owed its unusual name to its original Major League parent club, the Seattle Pilots, a doomed American League expansion club which lasted for only one season in 1969. After the Pilots relocated to Wisconsin in 1970 and became the Milwaukee Brewers, the Co-Pilots retained the now obsolete name for another decade, mostly as a Brewers farm club.
The NY-Penn League operates near the bottom of Major League Baseball’s developmental ladder, so only a tiny number of the players who toiled for the Co-Pilots during the 1970′s ever saw time in the Major Leagues. Still, the Brewers developed a number of future stars in Newark who contributed to Milwaukee’s strong clubs of the early 1980′s, including Robin Yount, Moose Haas and Jim Gantner.
The Co-Pilots played at Colburn Park, a crummy little 2,000-seater with wooden bleachers. Looking at photos today, it’s almost inconceivable that this was a pro ballpark in the 1970′s (and again, briefly, in the 1990′s with low-level independent baseball). After the 1978 season, the Brewers pulled out and the Co-Pilots limped along for one final summer in 1979 as an independent entry in the New York-Penn League, playing with cast-off players unwanted by Major League organizations.