On the Road: Splashing into Stockton
To see all posts from my August 2 visit to the Stockton Ports, click HERE. To see all posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).
AUGUST 2 (part one) — After spending Monday evening in Sacramento, I spent my Tuesday in Stockton. The two cities are a mere 50 miles away from one another, so it was the logical thing to do. Or, maybe it was the least illogical. I had visited the Stockton Ports a mere three years ago, in 2013, but had little to no compunction about a return trip. There’s always more to see, more to learn and more to see. Redundancy is sexy.
The Ports play in Banner Island Ballpark.
Even though more than a decade has passed, there have been (read my lips) no new California League ballparks since Banner Island Ballpark opened in 2005. It is still the newest in the league. One thing I hadn’t realized is that “Banner Island Ballpark” is an “unofficial” name. Per Wikipedia, “The City of Stockton owns the naming rights of the ballpark and until the rights are sold the stadium is officially known as Stockton Ballpark.”
Banner Island has a long professional baseball history, as the Ports website points out:
The Banner Island area is allegedly the home of the Stockton baseball team which played in the late 1800s, in an area known as “Mudville” along the San Joaquin River. Banner Island was once an island in the San Joaquin River delta. Although the area is no longer an island, the name remains.
Yes, Stockton’s 19th-century baseball team played in the “Mudville” area. Some have speculated that Ernest Thayer’s classic poem “Casey at the Bat” takes place in Stockton, and I found this theory intriguing. So much so that, immediately upon arriving at the park, Ports general manager Bryan Meadows and I took a field trip to the local Haggin Museum to find out more. You can read about that visit HERE.
Upon our return to the ballpark, I took a nice late afternoon stroll around the concourse. The Stockton Arena can be seen looming beyond left field; that evening, the arena would be playing host to comedian Kevin Hart.
Braden, a Stockton native and former Port who pitched a perfect game as a member of the Oakland Athletics, remains a ballpark hero. His number 50 has been retired by the team, though it looks like some big jerk of an outfielder scuffed up this tribute to Braden via inconsiderate spike usage.
In the Ports bullpen, there has been a long tradition of writing the names of each season’s occupants along the walls. The 2012 team must have been the first in history to feature two relievers named “Doolittle.”
In the press box, I met PA announcer Mike Conway. Mike, who has held this position since 2008, proudly displayed his wide gum selection. He always has an ample supply of gum.
With the fond memories of a perfect strike whizzing across the plate (and subsequently fending off the entreaties of scouts interested in signing me), I’ll end this blog post. Of course, there’ll be much more to come from Stockton.