When I was a kid, maybe seven or eight, my friend Paula had a California Angels baseball cap. It was blue with the red A and the halo. There was something about it that caught my eye. I wanted one just like it.
About the same time, while still living in southern California, it seemed that the center of the known universe might be Fernando Valenzuela. The 1981 World Series was the first major sporting event that I have even the vaguest memory of. You could even buy a Dodgers windbreaker at McDonald’s.
When we moved north, I lost touch with my California teams. Baseball wasn’t that big of a deal in Portland. There was a minor league team, but I don’t think I went to any games until the late ’80s when I caught a couple when they were packaged with Beach Boys concerts.
It wasn’t until 2001, when Civic Stadium reopened as PGE Park after some extensive renovations, that I set foot back in the park.
It’s a beautiful park, right at the edge of downtown, steeped in the history and the flavor of Portland, both new and old.
I went to dozens of Beavers games over the last decade, spending afternoons and evenings either up in the cheap seats in the 200s along the third base line or down low in the club seats along the first base line. I loved those days.
I know. You’re all confused. Isn’t she a Timbers fan? What about soccer?
You’re right. I’m guilty: season ticket holder, Axe Society, member of the Timbers Army.
But it was baseball that brought me to what is now Jeld-Wen Field first.
With the run-up to the Timbers move to Major League Soccer, changes needed to be made and our local baseball team, the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers, were left without a home.
Baseball has struggled in Portland, despite the calls for a major league team. There are great gaps in Portland’s baseball history and, with the departure of the Beavers two years ago, we’re in another one of those lulls. Hopefully, still-greiving Beavers fans will be placated a bit by the new team moving into Hillsboro, the Hillsboro Hops.
I write all of this as a prelude to this statement: as much as I am a soccer fan now, with as much time as I spend obsessing over my beloved Timbers, there’s still a little bit of me that perks up when the World Series comes around. By my count, and I may be misreading the tables, we may have our match-up defined Friday night. And then, for a week or so, I will become an unabashed baseball fan.