Baseball in Oregon. A sore subject over the last few years. After the Portland Beavers left in 2010, the Portland metro area was bereft of baseball. If you wanted to see a professional game played you had to make the trip south to Salem to see the Volcanoes (The SF Giants affiliate in the Northwest League), or further south to Eugene to watch our Emeralds, or had to make the trip to Safeco in Seattle. Bummer. All the soccer and basketball you can handle, but no baseball.
Well, BASEBALL IS BACK!, albeit in the form of an AZ Diamondbacks affiliate representing the city of Hillsboro, about a twenty minute drive from Portland proper. The Hillsboro Hops (so named because of all the hops grown here in the Willamette Valley) just so happened to be hosting the Eugene Emeralds in their final homestand of the year this week. So, me and the fellas decided to take in a game.
We had a full blown all American day planned for this past Wednesday. Fishing the Multnomah Channel, followed by beer and baseball. The day started out well and I caught some catfish (advisory: DO NOT eat any catfish caught in the Columbia River) and also my first sturgeon ever.
Getting back to baseball...
Only one team in the Northwest League was mathematically eliminated from the postseason heading into Wednesday night. No one told the Eugene Emeralds that they have nothing to play for.
And play they did, racking up 6 runs in a game in which all nine starters had a hit, which included 3 XBH and fourteen hits total. BOX SCORE HERE. It was a fun game to watch and no one at the stadium seemed to mind that we were hootin' and hollerin' for the visiting team. The people of Hillsboro seem to be embracing single A baseball and the 4,500 person capacity stadium was near full on a Wednesday evening.
The Emeralds, in true Eugene fashion, wore tye-dyed jerseys on this particular night. I was too lazy to go get a close up shot of the unis, but I'm pretty sure there's some pics somewhere on the internet. The Emeralds it seems, like the Oregon Ducks, have multiple uniform combinations that they wear. Thanks Phil Knight, for being a quadrillionaire and Oregon alum.
The closest I got to the field was out in right, where they were grillin' burgers on one side of the fence and Donovan Tate was patrolling the field on the other side. See pic above. He kept doing this crazy thing were he would put his weight on his left foot over and over again. It looked like a super slo mo Indian rain dance. Indians don't do rain dances in the northwest. No need to.
Another cool thing about living in these parts is the vast array of ales available to the beer connoisseur. One of Portland's largest and most famed breweries has brewed a special beer just for this inaugural baseball season. For those of us who appreciate heavy on the hops, this is a good one...
--- Long Ball Ale, a light bodied summertime style ale. "Our golden summer ale is brewed to be refreshing on a hot summer day at the ball park," says brewmaster Jeff Edgerton. "It maintains a smooth bittering profile with a slight haze to preserve the hop aroma --- one of my favorite characteristics of this beer is the slight Meyer lemon finish that you get after dry hopping with Meridians, a fairly limited hop in our state.’
As I walked around the stadium taking in the sights and sounds of America's pastime, I cried a tear into my Long Ball Ale when I saw an exhibit on the history of baseball in Portland. They had a collection of Portland Beavers memorabilia and a lineup card from one of the last games the Beavers played in Portland. The Norf was there. So was Sneaky Pig. Buster Posey was playing for the Fresno Grizzlies that night.
It was great to watch a minor league game here in the Portland area again and I definitely plan on attending more games next year. The MiLB experience is always a fun one and I would love to see pics from some of the parks that you guys have been to as well...