& Fourteen June 26-27
We’ve driven about 900 miles in the past two days with stops at Helena, Pasco and Portland.
A final word about
Great Falls before moving on west. Right down the street from the home of the rookie league White Sox is a wonderful Lewis
and Clark Interpretive Center. Of the many such centers we have visited on the trip, it ranks first with a great location
above the Missouri River, a theater that empties into a well designed presentation about the entire Lewis and Clark trip,
a walking path that allows visitors a closer look at the river and a well stocked gift shop. The entire center is of museum
quality and also features excellent use of sound including an audio tour of the exhibit.
Like Great Falls, Helena
also has an historic ballpark. It’s not too far from Montana’s state capitol building. Kindrick Field is the oldest in the Pioneer League, dating back to 1939, the same year the League began play. It’s also the smallest park
in the league with a seating capacity of 1,700, but it makes up in character and history what it lacks in size and modern
Dust Devils Stadium, home of the Tri-City Dust Devils, is much the opposite of Kindrick Field. It opened in 1995 and
is the second newest park in the Northwest
League. Unlike the urban location of Kindrick Field, Dust Devils Stadium is suburban all the way with a site designed
to attract fans from the cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. The location is defined by gas stations, lodging, and “big
box” stores like Wal-Mart. But, Tri-City has a solid baseball history including NWL championships in 1966, 1968, 1971 and
1984. The current Tri-City team began play in 2001 as an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and is in its second year under
principal owner George Brett.
Our journey west continued with memorable drives in Idaho on the Lolo Trail
and in Washington/Oregon along the Columbia River. We arrived in Portland for the game between the Portland Beavers and the Tucson Sidewinders at PGE Park, the oldest ballpark in Triple-A baseball.
PGE Park dates back to 1926 and has
some of the most and least desirable qualities of a vintage park. PGE looks historic and it is nestled into an urban neighborhood.
The inside of the park, also used for professional soccer, has a certain Olympic Stadium quality without the full roof. Its
roots as a football stadium are clearly apparent. The seating area is in a “J” shape with a straight line of seats from the
right field foul pole down to home plate and then curling around third base. The place seems huge with its plentiful foul
territory, the party deck past the first base dugout, the high wooden ceiling that cover the seats, and the four levels of
new luxury seats behind home plate.
Following the game, a Beavers victory, we walked down the street to Powell’s
Books, a Portland landmark and one of the best bookstore’s we’ve visited. Had Lewis and Clark visited Portland, they might
have just stayed there and never gotten to the Pacific Ocean. To stay on schedule, we had to forego further exploration of
Portland. Had time permitted, we would have visited the other sites noted in Roadside Baseball, the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, Sckavone Stadium, and the former site of Vaughn Street Ballpark. Instead, we continued
west toward a couple last Lewis and Clark sites the following morning.
Fifteen & Sixteen June 28-29
“Oh Boy, the Ocean’s in view.” That was the feeling when we finally worked our way the last 100 miles northwest from
Portland to the end of the outbound portion of the Lewis and Clark trail. We worked somewhat backward from Meriwether and
William by visiting interpretive centers first at Fort Clatsop and then at Cape Disappointment. Fort Clatsop is where the
Corps of Discovery hunkered down for the winter before the return trip back east. A new replica of the Fort is currently under
construction after its predecessor burned down last year.
Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Wash., is also undergoing
changes. Its interpretive display was recently modernized and ranks with the center at Great Falls as one of the best on the
trail. From the interpretive center we drove down to the beach and walked to the Pacific Ocean. We were tired, but pleased
that the outbound journey had been successfully accomplished. Of course, that’s only half the battle. And, the journey would
not have been made at all except for our next stop, the 36th annual SABR National Convention up the road in Seattle. Our first
glimpse of the Seattle skyline came a few miles outside the city. We expected the Space Needle to dominate the view, but it
appeared tiny off to the side of the more modern buildings that represent Seattle’s recent growth spurt.
convention is a highlight of the annual baseball schedule. You can be immersed in a variety of neat and enjoyable baseball
activities from the beginning of the convention to the end without ever going outside the hotel, but you would miss out on
exploring whatever great city is hosting the event. Decisions must be made and the only reassuring note is that whatever choice
you make should result in a memorable experience.
On Thursday afternoon, we chose to get out and see two of Seattle’s
signature attractions, the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. They are both in the
same Frank Gehry-designed building. Our transportation of choice was the Seattle Center Monorail, but it is down for repair.
Our second choice was foot power and a walk down Fifth Avenue to the Seattle Center area at the northwest end of downtown
Seattle that includes the Space Needle, a children’s museum, science center and the music and science-fiction destinations.
Later, we saw some of historic Pioneer Square in visiting two social events on the SABR convention schedule at Ebbets Field
Flannels and another fine book store, The Elliott Bay Book Company.
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