Avista Stadium, Spokane, WASHINGTON
Number of states: 1
To go: 49
Number of games: 3
First game: July 4, 2003 (Yakima Bears 13, Spokane Indians 7)
Most recent game: August 4, 2015 (Northwest League All-Stars 6, Pioneer League All-Stars 5)
Can’t think of a more appropriate day to start the Minor League Ballpark Quest than the 4th of July, or a better way to start
They’ve done nice work in Spokane with Avista stadium. I’ll admit they started with a fairly lame promotion…the will-call window is inside a pickup truck.(Get it? The ticket pickup window? Yeah, I know, lame.) But once you get inside, there are multiple positive attributes to the stadium. For starters, they have a real sense of minor league baseball history. There’s an entire museum exhibit with the history of minor league baseball in Spokane. Two things I did not know: one, Spokane was the Dodgers’ first farm club after moving to Los Angeles, and that Maury Wills and Steve Garvey and other folks played there, and Tommy Lasorda managed there. The other is that the Spokane Indians were the victims of the worst accident in American professional sports history when nine members of their team perished when their bus slid off a snowy road in 1949. I like that there’s a little baseball museum inside the park to teach me stuff like that.
Other nice bits about their fantastic pavilion were clear listings of the lineups (and the fact that I wasn’t the only one copying them),
But I won’t let that override a fine experience, with multiple mascots (Otto the “Spokane-a-saurus”–decked out in patriotic duds and a white beard!–and a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty), a bunch of promotions, and free American flags. The latter led to a pretty funny moment–Spokane’s right fielder, Brandon Simon, ran out to his position with a flag in his hand in a patriotic gesture, but appeared (to me) to realize, once he was out there, that he had nowhere he could respectfully put the flag. So, after a second of aimlessly meandering with his flag, he had to run back to the dugout to hand it to a teammate.
Also, Spokane looked to me to be a fine place–a place I could imagine living happily if ever I decided to leave the big city. Nice riverfront walk–a good place to spend the evening watching fireworks. It was a much smaller city than I’d imagined…I know it’s the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, but of course, I never stopped to think how little else there is between Seattle and Minneapolis. But it felt cozy.
A great place to start the ballpark quest! I imagine, when I finally cross the 50th state off and finish my quest, when I’m middle-aged and graying, it’ll still be near the top of my list.
Regional feel: 9/10
The museum and the outfield view combine to make this a very high score.
It felt just right.
Lots of wacky promotions–which I like in the low minors–and none interfered with play.
Team mascot/name: 3/5
Multiple mascots, but “Spokane-o-saurus?” Please…probably done right about the time of Jurassic Park. And I’m PC enough to be bothered by the nickname “Indians.”
Lovely views and a good-looking stadium.
Pavilion area: 5/5
Again, the museum was perfect, diverse food options…a great feel.
Lighten up, guys!
The crappy game didn’t help.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
Spokane’s Andrew Wishy gets 4 hits, including a home run, in a losing cause. Kevin Richardson also homers for Spokane. Jamie D’Antona homers for Yakima. The top of the sixth features 8 runs, 7 hits, two errors, three walks, a hit batsman, a passed ball, and a balk. That there is short-season A baseball!
The 2013 game ended on a 3-2 pickoff of the tying-run-on-first. I hadn’t ever seen that before: it was an awesome way to end a game.
Peter Van Gansen of the Tri-City Dust Devils hits a walk-off single in the 10th inning to lead the Northwest League to victory over the Pioneer League in the first Northwest League/Pioneer League All-Star Game. You bet my family headed out there to see it…it was a splendid experience. Nice kids signing autographs. Spokane Indians (like, members of the actual tribe) doing a traditional dance to start the festivities to show their ties to the team. Teams wearing uniforms with the team names listed in Spokane Indian language. And my second home run derby. It’s far more fun to watch a home run derby in person.
Written July 2003. Updated April 2016.