I went to see ASU take on Arizona yesterday at Bobby Winkles Field which sits in Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, in honor of William Guthrie Packard and the Sun Devils’ Hall of Fame coaches Jim Brock and Bobby Winkles. Brock coached the Sun Devils to a 1,100-440 record (.714) from 1972–94, while Winkles coached them to a 574-173 record (.768) from 1959-71. I love how they added all the names to this place! I loved this stadium. As I walked in I could feel the history of the place. No, it was not “state of the art” but it had a personality. It was built in 1974, so all were celebrating its’ 40th year. Unfortunately, this is the last year that the Sun Devils will play here. I was saddened to hear this because of so many past events, records made, crowds, students which became apart of this grand stadium – it’s history. Plus, it is situated right on the campus, across the street from Sun Devil Stadium. My question is why? Why does the program have to move to a different field? Who made this decision? Did they take the fans into consideration?
ASU is one of the most successful college baseball programs in the country. The Sun Devils have won five national championships, the fourth-most by any school, and are second only to USC in total number of alumni to ever play in MLB. Sun Devil baseball alumni notables include Reggie Jackson, Rick Monday, Paul LoDuca, Barry Bonds, Bob Horner, Andre Ethier and Dustin Pedroia. With all this baseball royalty, and the rich history of the ball park, why move? I think of Dotty and Ralph (Day 7 “Red Sox Love”) when they explained to me what it was like going to Fenway, “…it always gives us butterflies and the excitement is hard to contain when you start walking up the ramp and you start to see all the green of the ballpark”, saying, “it is overwhelming with so much history.” I wonder if they would feel the same about the Red Sox if they had built a new stadium or just decided to move. I never got to see a game at the old Yankee Stadium (I kick myself). I will see the new Yankee Stadium this year and I am sure I will be impressed; but, it isn’t the house that Ruth built. I love going to Wrigley Field, so rich with history. I remember watching WGN and hearing Harry Caray when I was growing up. When you go there you still have the history that hits you and it is such a great feeling.
Fans turn out not to just watch a baseball game, if that was the case the attendance won’t be as good (just my opinion), but they show up for so many different reasons. I went to the game yesterday on a recommendation. A rivalry game! ASU and Arizona don’t like each other and I am glad I went along with the other 3800 fans that showed up on a Wednesday afternoon! I was impressed with the attendance and was able to talk with a few alumni that came. I found they, too, are very sad that the team is moving to a MLB Spring Training complex that is not being used. They asked the same question of why? I talked to a couple of kids from Idaho that were in town for spring break to play some baseball. They showed up to support a player on Arizona’s team that attended their high school. I saw a couple of brothers decked out in their ASU gear who brought their young children. The kids were more interested in a hole they found in the grass seating area than the ballgame but the brothers got to watch the game. I stood on the third base side for part of the game and was talking to an older gentleman who was asking where I lived in Wisconsin. I told him and he told me he was to Eau Claire a few years ago to see his grandson play for the Eau Claire Express of the Northwoods League. ‘What did he like about the experience?’ Carson Park Baseball Stadium – it has a rich history and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. I have to admit that I love the older stadiums, it is a big reason I show up, or have a desire, to see different places. McKechnie Field, the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is my favorite place of all the spring training fields I have been to.
McKechnie is the oldest one, with a great presence, personality and it’s history!
“The park was open and airy, home plate was less than 30 yards from the street, the place had a very historic feel to it. Recent renovations made it possible to walk around the entire stadium and sit in the outfield.” I wrote this about McKechnie a few weeks back… Recent renovations is my point here at ASU. I feel if some are needed, the fans will be okay with it. You “can’t move history” of a place. Ruth never played on the new Yankees field, he played on Fenway’s! I like Miller Park in Milwaukee which is very fan friendly for only being a tad over 10 years old. There is a lot of entertainment going on, not just the ball game. I had no problem with them getting rid of the old County Stadium, there was some history but it was short lived. The Braves won the 1956 World Series but they bailed to Atlanta. The Brewers were in the 1982 World Series and for 17 years it had Yount, Molitor and Gantner playing together. However, County Stadium lacked mystic and the history was spotty. Some places can start over, others need to look at the historical significance. I know the Yankees did and they would have saved Yankees Stadium if they could but it wasn’t in the cards. ASU, in my opinion, you don’t need to move from your stadium that is only 40 years old and still structurally sound. If Chicago can rework Wrigley, you can save the Bobby Winkles Field which sits in Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark – just look at the name! So much history and memories gone when you move!
As for the game, ASU scored 10 runs in the 6th inning and beat Arizona 14-6, coming back from a 6-1 deficit. I wonder how often that has happened? Anyway, I will get off my “soap box”. I am sure that the new stadium will be a nice sterile place to play a ballgame. There are so many “new” ones now-a-days.
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