Park # 162
What I Remember
And then it was over. In 2003 I went back to all of the minor league parks, there were 160 in affiliated baseball that season..more than there may ever be again. That trip paled in comparison in most respects to the 1991 adventure for a variety of reasons. Some are obvious, others are less so. But it did have one thing the 1991 trip did not…it placed the emphasis on the minor leagues where it should have been all along.
Sue and I both said after the trip that it was the minor league parks that had been our favorite and looking back after 30 years that is certainly true. It was our discovery of minor league baseball and its communities that was really the story of our Excellent Adventure and their collective discovery of us was what gave the story its juice. Over the course of the next two months I will continue to chronicle the remaining parks we visited and what we did each day. But a big part of the trip ended 30 years ago today when we saw the last of our 152 minor league parks that season.
It is interesting that the Wikipedia page about Civic Stadium, which is now called Providence Park, practically gushes about its history. The park was built in 1926 on the site where a field had stood since the 1800s. But during our visit, at least, it was already well on its way to becoming what it has since become full-time, a soccer stadium. There is nothing wrong with soccer stadiums, of course, but like football – the viewing requirements are different than baseball. Like many of the big multi-use stadiums in the major leagues at the time, the curve of the grandstand was built to accommodate a rectangle instead of a diamond. This meant that for many of the seats the view was of across the field rather than out toward the outfield. Not bad, just different. There was also an enormous amount of foul territory ala Oakland’s Coliseum.
The Beavers staff were very accommodating, however, and seemed to enjoy the honor of being our last minor league park. We threw out the first pitch and the team welcomed us on the scoreboard. Alas for the Beavers most of the rest of the activity on the scoreboard featured the other visitors. Calgary had won the 2nd half in the Pacific Coast League’s Northern Division and looked like the more complete team at that point in the year en route to an 8-2 win in the first game of the PCL playoffs.
You may be wondering, by the way, how we knew that the Beavers would be in the playoffs and we could build our schedule around a playoff game? Portland had won the first half in their division and thus we had known since June that they would be hosting a playoff game and that effectively bought us an extra day in the minor league season.
Calgary Cannons 8 Portland Beavers 2
A Note about this Site
This site is intended to be a companion to the upcoming book In League with America. Although some games were particularly notable and will appear in the book, most of the results of the 199 games we saw over the course of the 1991 season will not. Our journey was never really intended to be at the games themselves, it was about the places we saw and the people we met along the way.
However, there is now an historic nature to the results from this season. All of the players we saw then, even in the minors, have long since retired. Some of the players we saw at Class A are now members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. These pages, then, will function as kind of a digital appendix with a brief recollection of each day, the result of the game(s) we saw that day and a map of our daily drive.