SPOKANE, Wash. - Five million, two hundred fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred eighty minutes. Five million, two hundred fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred eighty moments so dear. Five million, two hundred fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred eighty minutes. How do you measure, measure a decade?
In home runs, in innings, in fireworks, in bags of popcorn. In rallies, in hot dogs, in pitches, in walk-offs.
In five million, two hundred fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred eighty minutes. How do you measure a decade at the ballpark?
Without futher ado, here are the top 10 Spokane Indians moments of the last decade in no particular order:
1. Ruben Sierra Jr Walk-Off Grand Slam Wins Fan a New Truck: How would you like to walk into the ballpark, see your hometown team rally for a thrilling win, and then leave with a brand new truck? That's exactly what happened at Avista Stadium on Friday, July 28, 2011 when Ruben Sierra Jr's game-ender with the bases loaded (he had tied up the game the previous inning with a two-run blast) sent local third grade teacher Leslie Vancil home with an F-150 from Gus Johnson Ford. It just goes to show you never know what you'll see - or win - at the ballpark on any given day.
2. 2015 NWL All-Star Game at Avista Stadium: The Spokane Indians played host to a revamped All-Star Game at Avista Stadium in 2015 - the first midsummer matchup that pitted the Northwest League against the Pioneer League. A sellout crowd of 7,083 was on hand for a star-studded spectacle that featured a thrilling home run derby and future big leaguers like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Moore and Willie Calhoun. The game itself was a back-and-forth affair with the NWL emerging triumphant, 6-5, on a walk-off hit from Tri-City's Peter Van Gansen.
3. Debut of the Redband Rally: Something fishy happened at Avista Stadium on July 7, 2017 - and Spokane Indians games have never been the same since. The Redband Rally campaign, which was designed to bring awareness to the native Redband Trout and the health of the Spokane River, debuted that night as the team rallied for a 10-9 victory over the Hillsboro Hops. Fans were introduced to Redband headbands and a new mascot, Ribby the Redband Trout, while learning about the City of Spokane's efforts to protect our region's signature fish. The Indians would go on to collect an amazing eight walk-off wins that season, including the final game of the season to clinch a playoff berth, and the campaign earned national recognition from Ballpark Digest.
4. 200,000 fans in 2019: The best fans in baseball took it to another level this summer when they helped the Spokane Indians crack 200,000 in attendance for the first time in their 37 years as a short-season affiliate. A total of 6,859 fans - the 10th sellout of the year -0 came to Avista Stadium on the season's final day, helping the Indians become just the sixth short-season team since 2005 to reach the mythical 200k mark.
5. Showdown with King Felix: A former Cy Young winner starting a game in the Northwest League? It sounds like fan fiction, but it happened on July 26, 2016 when Felix Hernandez took the mound for the Everett AquaSox on a rehab assignment. The Indians proved up to the challenge in the David vs. Goliath matchup, collecting six hits and three runs against King Felix in just 3 2/3 innings. "It was a great opportunity to face one of the best pitchers in the world over the last decade," said Spokane outfield Preston Scott, who singled and struck out against Hernandez. "I know it was a rehab start, but I could see some of the things that allowed him to have so much success. I enjoyed the challenge."
6. Combined Extra-Inning No-Hitter in 2014: No-hitters in the minor leagues are rarer than hen's teeth (Spokane's previous no-no had come all the way back in 2002) so what are the odds of four pitchers combining on an extra-inning no-hitter-on the road, no less? Starting pitcher Derek Thompson got the historic afternoon started with five solid innings against the AquaSox before turning the ball over to Shane McCain for the next three frames. Adam Parks kept Everett at bay in the 9th and 10th innings of a still scoreless game with Luke Tendler's three-run blast finally giving the Indians a lead in the 11th. It was then all up to Luis Pollorena, who got the first two AquaSox hitters to fly out in the bottom of the 11th before ending the combined no-hitter with an emphatic strikeout.
7. Salish Jersey Displayed in HOF: The Spokane Indians baseball team and the Spokane Tribe of Indians are a unique partnership in the world of professional sports, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame recognized this by including their partnership in an educational model that educated fans and students about Native American logos and mascots in sports. The team's uniform, which featured "Spokane" written in the Spokane Tribe's traditional Salish language starting in 2014, was also on display at the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami.
8. Kyle Hendricks/Carl Edwards Jr. Lead Cubs to World Series Title: All it took for the Chicago Cubs to win their first World Series in 108 years was a pair of former Spokane Indians pitchers. Kyle Hendricks ('11), who was lights out all postseason, delivered a terrific start against Cleveland in Game 7 (4.2 IP, 1 ER) - and no, we still have not forgiven Joe Maddon for removing him from the game so early - while Carl Edwards Jr ('12) picked up the first two outs of the 10th inning before handing the ball over to Mike Montgomery to seal the deal.
9. Playoff Game at Safeco Field: Only a handful of players from the 2016 squad are likely to reach the majors (only one, CD Pelham, has thus far), but they can all say they played on a big league field. After a heavy rain rendered Everett's Memorial Stadium unplayable, Game Two of the NWL Playoffs between the Indians and AquaSox was shifted to Safeco Field. Although the Indians would ultimately lose the game and the series, they can always say they got to play on the same field as Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro
10. Air Force Sergeant Surprises Family: There wasn't a dry eye in the ballpark on August 8, 2011 when Sgt. Chris Weichman shocked his family by appearing on the field after returning from a third tour of duty in Afghanistan. His twin 4-year-old daughters, Gracie and Ruby, had been selected to compete in the Spokesman-Review Newspaper Toss promotion along with Weichman's wife, Abby. At the conclusion of the promotion, Spokane's P.A. announcer directed everyone's attention to the home dugout, where Sgt. Wiechman appeared to the delight of his family and fans at Avista Stadium. When Weichman's daughters realized what was happening, they rushed across the field to their dad's open arms as the crowd and both dugouts rose to their feet for a standing ovation.
ABOUT THE SPOKANE INDIANS
The Spokane Indians are the Short Season Class "A" affiliate for the Texas Rangers. Avista Stadium is home to the $5 Bench Seat courtesy of Multicare. CLICK HERE to reserve your seats today. Parking at all Spokane Indians games is FREE. The Spokane Indians Team Store is open M-T 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, F 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM during the winter.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.