All off season, leading up to Opening Day 2019, your Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will mix a little history with what to expect this upcoming exciting season.
Volcanoes Watching sat down with the Walker family to talk baseball, the community and the positive impact the team's wonderful fans make on Volcanoes Baseball.
Q: Jerry Walker: what was it like the first time you saw a Minor League Baseball game in person? Did you ever dream one day you'd own and build one of the most established professional baseball teams in Oregon history?
A: It was Opening Day, Everett Giants, 1984. The franchise had been purchased by the Bavasi family and moved to Everett from Walla Walla. The team played in Everett Memorial Stadium, the same Stadium where I played High School and American Legion Baseball. I remember bringing my daughters Tracey and Brittany to the game - a sellout. The overflow crowd was actually seated on the warning track in the outfield to accommodate all whom came.
Interesting that Joe Strain was Everett's Manager and 20 years later he would be managing the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes! Did I have a hint then, of things to come? No, it wasn't until a few years later - but, that's another story.
Q: Lisa Walker: What's one/some of the memorable Volcanoes moments that are most special to you? Why?
A: Honestly there are so many, from our first season and pregnancy with Mickey to the wonderful tributes to fallen soldiers and their families and of course all our Cancer Awareness Nights.
Two distinct memories that come to mind:
In June of 2001 when I was invited to throw out the first pitch. The previous September I had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it was a long "grace filled" winter for us. Jerry thought it was a great idea to have me throw out the season opening first pitch to celebrate being a survivor. I was flown in on helicopter (not my first choice for travel, but it was fun) and landed behind the pitcher's mound. Although I threw "like a girl" it was an honor and truly humbling.
In 2002 the Volcanoes placed greater emphasis on our Home Town Heroes Night at the Stadium. Still fresh in our minds were the events of September 11, 2001. That evening during the pregame ceremony over the P.A. system we played the speech President Bush gave the evening of September 11th. I will never forget to this day how that impacted me and those around me who all knew the real value of "home town heroes".
Q: Mickey Walker: because you get to know the Volcanoes players, is it easier or harder to watch when, say, they are in a very close game, bottom of the ninth at Volcanoes Stadium?
A: It is never easy to watch in that situation if you are a true baseball fan and you're watching 'your team'. I have confidence though and believe a positive approach will prevail in those situations. I believe in 'my team'.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.