Hillsboro Hops Ballpark/Ron Tonkin Field, Hillsboro, OREGON
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Number of states: still 31
States to go: still 19
Number of games: 59
First game: June 17, 2013 (Hillsboro Hops 12, Eugene Emeralds 0)
Most recent game: July 29, 2021 (Hillsboro Hops 6, Tri-City Dust Devils 1)
I went three years without baseball anywhere close to where I live. Three. Long. Years. When the AAA Portland Beavers bolted town in order to allow the charming, perfectly-serviceable PGE Park to be made into a soccer-only facility and
For a short while, it looked like that would be Vancouver, as the Yakima Bears Northwest League team looked for an upgrade from Yakima County Stadium. A good plan for a gorgeous stadium within walking distance of my house came into being. The Bears would pay a good chunk of the
The result is Hillsboro Hops Stadium, and I like most of what they’ve done with the place. The ballpark is the center of a high school sports complex, right next door to the football
Alas, there are negatives with any positives, and the artificial turf on the field are the negative. Since the ballpark will be used by high
Opening night was a nice, cathartic experience for me. I was pleased to see that the Hops understood the importance of the night to those of us who would care to show up for it. They had several nice touches: a display honoring the Portland Beavers, for instance (including lineup cards for their final game: a rare case where I saw a display for a game that I was actually present for). Local kid baseball players had dug up home plate at
Once the game got going, it appeared that the Hops could have used a little more rehearsal. The scoreboard had a few problems: for starters, they could have figured out how to do better than the
But I still am glad this is my home park because there’s a lot right with it. The game can be seen from nearly anywhere on the concourse. The history of Portland baseball is very much on display and
It’s possible my perspectives on my home ballpark will change over the course of the chunk of games I’ll attend per year for the forseeable future, but my first impression is that the team mostly got it right. They’re local, unashamed of being in the low level minors, and unashamed of being small. That’s enough for me to overlook the negatives of the ballpark and look forward to quite a few games here over the years.
Regional Feel: 7/10
The celebration of Oregon baseball makes a big impact here–looking back at the Beavers and tying it all together with past teams. Plus lucking into a rainbow on opening night spoke to me.
I like the nestling next to the high school stadium, being surrounded by local softball leagues, and there’s plenty to like here architecturally. But oh, oh, oh…that turf.
Lots going on between innings, but no interference with the game. Marvelous. Even if, on the very first day the park opened, they mentioned a “Hillsboro Hops Stadium Tradition.” I only wish they’d said “We started this tradition at the beginning of this sentence, and have done it ever since.”
Team Mascot/Name: 4/5
Barley the Hop is the mascot. I like the idea of a kid high-fiving the main component in beer. The name “Hops” may have been a little bit of a slap in the face to the team’s predecessors in Yakima, where they grow a lot more hops than near Hillsboro, but what the hell.
Would be 5 without the turf, but hey.
Pavilion area: 4/5
Quite nice. Tough to watch the game from the outfield, however. (But possible to watch nearby softball games if you get bored with the Hops.)
This may improve eventually, but the first two games I attended were really weak in this area. The scoreboard operator would make really basic errors (like the number of outs in an inning), and I could see the umpire demonstratively displaying outs to counteract the incorrect scoreboard. In fact, we in the stands started signalling outs to each other as if we were players on the field. (“Two down, everybody! Two down! Play is at first!”)
All that pent-up baseball love came out nicely. I was glad to be a part of it.
Pleased for this to be my home ballpark.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
The debut game was a blowout for the Hops. Jordan Parr hit the first home run in ballpark history while young Jose Martinez led four pitchers to a three-hit shutout.
I “see” my first inside-the-park-home-run ever here in July of 2013. I say “see” because I lost the ball in the sun. When I heard no response around me, I assumed a foul ball, and was then confused to look up from my nachos and see the runner crossing home plate. It turns out the the Hops’ left fielder, Yogey Perez-Ramos, also lost the ball in the sun. It landed about 50 feet behind him near the left-field foul pole. By the time center fielder Brian Billigen got to it, Everett’s Jack Reinheimer was crossing home plate. Not a lot of excitement in the ballpark: mostly confusion (I had to check the news accounts to figure out exactly how that happened and how I missed it).
Both the 2014 and 2015 Hops won the Northwest League, and I had the pleasure of watching the clincher of the South Division series over Boise in 2014. I liked how businesslike the team was about it–they weren’t done. An already-scheduled trip took me away for the Northwest League Championship series that same week, but it was still a pleasure to watch.
In 2019, the Hops feature a stud 18-year-old ballplayer named Kristian Robinson. It felt like he hit a home run, drew a walk, and stole a base every time I saw him. He is the first non-pitcher I have seen at the short-season level where I could say “damn, that guy’s gonna make it.” So here in 2019, I am making the call. Kristian Robinson is going to make it.
In 2021, the Vancouver Canadians called Ron Tonkin Field home because of the difficulty of international travel as we pulled out of COVID that year. I headed to my first of those games and loved it. No ads. Not much between innings. A few cardboard cutouts behind the Canadians’ dugout, but not many actual bodies there. Loved it! Also, Everett AquaSox right fielder Zach Deloach tossed my son Aaron a ball. And a great game to boot: Luis de los Santos has a walk-off sac fly in a 2-1 win for Vancouver, the “home” team.
First-round Mariners pick Emerson Hancock picks up his first professional win, striking out 8 in 5 innings in a 12-4 win over “home” Vancouver in June 2021.
Adam Kloffenstein of the Indians gets the win for Vancouver against Spokane. I had a great time chatting with Adam’s mom for some of the game, so I was rooting for the dude.
Written July 2013. Updated July 2021.