What I Remember
I remember the colors. The Tucson Toros wore a colorful blend of red and yellow uniforms (although they were affiliated with the Houston Astros) and the grandstand of Hi Corbett Field had red and yellow seats, as I recall. The outfield fence signs were two levels high and painted in colors of every hue and the scoreboard was red and yellow too. The venerable ballpark opened in 1937 and Triple-A baseball left it for a new model a few years after our trip, yet Hi Corbett field was one of my favorites the minute I saw it and, like Stockton, we made a special point to come back in September when the Toros made it to the Pacific Coast League championship.
But mostly the colors were of the natural variety. The park looked out over mountains and had one of the most spectacular sunsets we saw anywhere. The picture I’m currently using as the background on this site doesn’t really do it justice as it a photo taken of an old photo we took that night but it is still pretty amazing -it looks like the sky is on fire.
Tucson Toros 6 Las Vegas Stars 5 (10 Innings)
Gary Cooper’s name came back to me through the mists of 30 years. He played just nine games in the major leagues and was, as far as I know, not related to the famous actor of the same name. But Cooper’s pinch-hit homer with two outs in the bottom of the 9th was Hollywood-worthy and sent the game to extra innings where the Toros won in the 10th.
The Box (Click on the arrows to see more images)
I’m not sure how it happened, perhaps we were too busy drinking it all in but I don’t think we ever got a scorecard or program in Tucson, at least it was not in the boxes I’ve been lugging around for the last three decades. We did get a pocket schedule…there’s that yellow and red.
Incidentally, Kenny Lofton doesn’t get mentioned in the game story but he had two hits at the top of the Toros lineup that night and was by far the fan favorite. Lofton, of course, went on to a great major league career but he was particularly beloved in Tucson because he was also a star basketball player at the hometown University of Arizona. It was either at this game or when we returned in September that Lofton’s teammate and possibly the only person more popular than he was in Tucson, Steve Kerr, was introduced to the crowd at the game.
I didn’t know much about the desert before this trip but it was in Tucson that I first fell in love with it. We camped a few miles to the east of the city in the Saguaro National Monument (now Saguaro National Park) and I was blown away by how beautiful and interesting it was. It may have been as much for this, as for the Toros, that we came back on an off-week in September.