Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So long old friend............

Thursday September 3 will mark the end era in Eugene. The Single A Eugene Emeralds will play their final game in Civic Stadium before moving to the brand new PK Park near Autzen Stadium. Civic was built in 1938 and has been home of Emeralds since 1969. While there might be a little bit of sadness to see the old stadium go it is a move that should have happened years ago in my opinion. Despite my feelings on the stadium itself I do have many memories of the place.

Over the years I have attended many games at Civic. I've seen players who would go on to great major league careers and some who never made out of Eugene. I have many fond memories dating back to my early childhood. My family used to head to the ballpark several times each year. During those games I wander the ballpark trying to get foul balls. After games I would often wander the stadium collecting plastic cups and the mini batting helmets that they served ice cream in. Looking back I can't believe that my mother let me do that.

One of the long standing promotions at Civic was the Prince Puckler's Sunday throw. Each game kids are selected to try to throw a ball through a hole and win free ice cream from Prince Pucklers. Now days they let kids stand something like three feet away and give them a tennis ball to throw. Even if they miss the still get free Ice Cream. When I had the opportunity to do as a kid I had to stand about 20 feet back and throw a real baseball and I got absolutely nothing when I missed.

One of my favorite activities as a kid was trying to get autographs. I remember passing up an opportunity to get an autograph from someone playing for Bellingham Mariners named Ken Griffey JR. My reasoning was that I didn't feel like waiting in line and I didn't think he would ever be as good as his dad, oops. The one Autograph I did wait in line for was from a pitcher was supposed to be the next Nolan Ryan. I waited for 45 minutes and when I finally got it I was the happiest kid in the stadium. When he made it big this was going be worth a lot of money. I think it's safe that Todd Van Popple was not next Nolan Ryan.

The happy memories are great but the bottom line is that the old stadium needs to go. The stadium is in disrepair and it lacks many of the things necessary to be a viable stadium for minor league baseball. The cost to make the stadium viable is just too great and nobody has the money to pay for it.

On Thursday September 3 prior to watching my Ducks play Boise State I will make one final trip to Civic Stadium to watch the Emeralds play. For some it will probably be an emotional day, but not for me.

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