This is my first installment in a mini series "A Pacific Northwest Story Collection." Basically, I'll be asking Pacific North Westerners about stories from our sports-related locations. So, as my first installment, I decided on Cheney Stadium in my favorite city Tacoma. (I'm going there today...Whoo hoo:) The Stadium opened in 1960 by due to many renovations, the latest including new pictures on the outside, remains in pristine condition. It seats 9,000. Oh, and this stadium is not named after Dick Cheney, because if it was, it would be in an undisclosed location! (Boom boom, crash!) But seriously, it's named after Tacomian Bill Cheney who was an important charity man.
The stadium is amazing by itself. While old and lacking the amenities of modern minor league ballparks, it looks like no other park. It has a concrete roof that is not supported by anything, and old-fashion lights, and even a Mt. Rainer view.
Oh, and great BBQ, too!
The dimensions are symmetrical, 325 down each line, but an extraordinary 425 to center. Jeremy Reed is the only person to clear the fence since the stadium was renovated and the fence became taller. But, before renovation, the fence in center was less than 20 feet tall, and Jose Canseco cleared center field. It was "one of the more impressive homers at the park, and could probably have cleared the fence today."
So, here are three stories from the great Tacoma ballpark:
This story from P.J. Ross:
“Two years ago James Loney was playing right field for the Las Vegas 51's. It was dollar beer night and needless to say, everyone in the right field bleachers had a few too many. The crowd started chanting "LO---NEY!!!" every chance we got.
“He kept motioning to us to stop, and during a pitching change, he was conversing with CF Matt Kemp, and they were hassling us from the outfield as we yelled many disgraceful things at the two of them.
“Anyway, the game was close as it came down to the end and we had moved from the bleachers down to right next to the right field fence. Mike Morse hit a double down the right field line with a guy on first, and Loney went into the corner right in front of us to get it. He turned and threw, hit the cutoff, and had Morse gunned down in plenty of time.
“The only problem was that the 51's catcher that day was 37-year old Kelly Stinnett. Stinnett completely dropped the throw and the run scored, giving the Rainier’s a one-run lead.
“As Loney walked back to his position, I yelled at him that the old man should have caught the ball. Loney looked back and told me (not an exact quote) "Could you get me a catcher that's not a senior citizen?"
“Loney was great; he knew we were just ribbing him because we were a bunch of drunken college students. When we were giving him a hard time during the game, I didn't know that he had hit .380 the previous year and was an amazing prospect. He just happened to be the unlucky guy who was stuck in right field with a bunch of idiots loaded up on dollar beers and dollar hot dogs. Within two weeks he was on the Dodgers big league club for good.
“And the Rainier’s did away with dollar beer night last season, only to resurrect it this year, but this time they are $2.”
Now from Tim:
“A couple years ago I went to a Rainier’s game with a few good friends. We are all big baseball fans. I am pretty sure the opponent was the Rivercats, but it does not matter much for the story. The game went into extras, and in the 10th the Rainier’s completely melted down. They committed three errors in the inning, "highlighted" by a ground ball going right through Oswaldo Navarro's wickets at shortstop. Sacramento went on to win the game, pretty much all thanks to Tacoma's defensive meltdown. My friends and I agreed it was the worst inning of baseball we've ever seen.
“One of my friends in particular was real bitter over the display, and wanted to get out of Cheney ASAP once the game was over. However, once we got out, we were stopped. We couldn't get to our car because it was Friday night, and the post-game fireworks display had just started. Where we needed to walk was roped off for safety purposes until the display was over. So, not only were we stuck, we couldn't even see the fireworks. It capped off the night, especially for my friend. We laughed about it that night, and it still makes me chuckle every time I think about it.
“I always enjoy Rainier’s games (I'm going tomorrow night, actually) but that's the best story I've got.”
This from Griffin Cooper:
“Uh, not really [I don’t remember any Rainer’s games]. The only thing that comes to mind is that once when I was like 10, my family and I got to a game late, and a foul ball came into the parking lot while we were on our way to the entrance. I ran over and grabbed it.”
And finally, a story of my own:
I got to go to Cheney Stadium when Joe Biden was speaking to help Christine Gregoire in the Gubernatorial debate. Joe had many good things to say, Christine didn't, and we had a great time.
Do you have your own stories? Share them!
Thanks to all who helped.