The well-known baseball phrase "safe at home" took on a new meaning for the Spokane Indians earlier this month when construction crews discovered a vintage floor safe hidden within their long-time home of Avista Stadium.
The unexpected find can be attributed to a $3 million renovation project currently taking place at the 55-year-old facility. Workers were in the midst of redoing the concrete floor of the team's administrative building when they discovered a circular metal cap beneath a file folder, which itself had been completely obscured by carpeting. The cap was removed, and beneath it lay a dial safe made by the Los Angeles-based Gary Safe Company.
But as for what's in the safe? That remains a mystery, and probably will do so for quite some time. Otto Klein, the Indians' senior vice president, says that there are currently no plans to bring in a local safe cracker in order to see what treasure (if any) is contained therein.
"Maybe down the line we'll do something locally, where we can get the media involved," he said. "Or maybe it'll just be a private thing. There's part of me that definitely wants to open it up, and part that doesn't. It's the mystery that's intriguing."
Regardless of whether it is opened or not, the safe will not be carpeted over once the renovations are complete for the Rangers' short-season affiliate. Klein calls it a "history piece" that will help remind the community of Avista Stadium's long-standing place within it. The facility opened in 1958 -- hosting the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate after that franchise made the move westward from Brooklyn -- and Klein speculates that the safe dates to this era of Spokane baseball history.
"We're hoping this has something to do with the Dodgers," he said. "When Tommy Lasorda was here he managed the greatest Minor League team of the '70s."
That would be the 1970 Spokane Indians, which featured the likes of Steve Garvey, Bill Buckner, Charlie Hough, Doyle Alexander and even future big league skipper Bobby Valentine. While it's fun to imagine that the safe contains Lasorda's secret family recipes, Garvey's favorite pair of mustache clippers and Charlie Hough's top-secret dissertation on how to master the knuckle ball, the truth is almost certainly far more pedestrian. Klein, noting the safe's cylindrical tube shape, notes that it may have been used for something as humdrum as petty cash storage.
"This whole thing could turn out to be anti-climactic," he conceded. "But it's still a neat baseball story."