I think we all knew that it was coming but remained hopeful that it wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, after 26 years, the Volcanoes are officially no longer the Low-A affiliate to the San Francisco Giants. Short season baseball has been eliminated, and the Volcanoes were one of 40 teams to lose their affiliation to a major league club. The Giants are now affiliated with the Eugene Emeralds, who reside about 70 miles from Volcanoes stadium.
Volcanoes Big League Resume
Since the Volcanoes arrived in the Salem-Keizer area, they have won five Northwest League Championships and sent 112 of their players to the show. Athletes that played major roles in the Giants three World Series Championships too! Players such as,
- Tim Lincecum
- Buster Posey
- Pablo Sandoval
- Joe Panik
- Brandon Crawford
- Sergio Romo
- Ryan Vogelsong
Not a bad list of Giants if you ask me!
I’m going to write this article as someone who has been a lifelong Giants fan and fortunate enough to have Volcanoes Stadium in my backyard. The ballpark is about a 15-minute drive from where I sit at my desk now. I’ve been to hundreds of games, seen countless players make their professional debuts, and even been lucky enough to throw out the first pitch at a game with my son on Father’s Day.
I’m currently wearing my Volcanoes batting practice jersey that I bought in an auction at the ballpark. I’ve got my hat mounted to the wall beside me that I got signed by Ryan Vogelsong and the 1998 NWL Championship team, and my Roof Man bobblehead is beside me on my desk next to my Kruk and Kuip gnomes. (Those I got in San Francisco at Oracle park.)
Looking back on the Giant memories
I will forever remember throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Volcanoes Stadium as one of the coolest moments of my life. What makes it even cooler is that I got to share that moment with my son. We trotted out to the mound together on that Father’s Day. Standing out on the mound, holding my boy, and looking down, staring straight into the glove of the Volcanos player in the squaaaat. After the pitch, we got to shake hands with the catcher and keep the ball that we threw out. The entire starting Volcanoes lineup had signed it too!
In case you were wondering……
You’re goddamn right I threw that ball 95mph dead center for a perfect strike! AND THE CROWED WENT WILD!!! Hey, let me remember it how I want to remember it, OK! My son Coleton wasn’t even two at that time, so I doubt that he remembers, but that moment is something I will always cherish.
The 4th Of July fireworks shows were a sight to see! The team didn’t hold back and always put on a hell of a show. The best part about it was you got to come down onto the field and set up shop to watch the show from the best seat in the house, down the first baseline.
Every Father’s Day, every 4th Of July, Every Legends day, I was there. Any excuse to spend the evening at the ballpark. “Oh, it’s Tuesday? Well, I better head to Volcanoes stadium then, I guess.” I have had beer and hot dogs for dinner probably more than any other meal I’ve ever had for dinner, and I can thank my Volcanoes for that.
The best thing for me is simply being at the ballpark. The sights and sounds, the smell of the grass, the ballpark is my happy place. There are so many games that I have gone to that I spent the majority of the time in the play area, not even watching the game. It never mattered to me. As long as I was at the park, I was happy.
The player’s bullpens are right up to the fence lines in left and right field. My boy never made one trip to the park, and believe me, he made a few, without leaving with a handshake and used ball. All the players were always so nice to the kids and usually turned around with smiles on their faces after getting yelled at by a child. “Hey guy! Hey guy!” He was always so excited to run back up to me after he got that ball. I always waved and yelled my thank you to the player because 95% of those balls ended up being mine. Yeah, I used my young son’s cuteness to score free NWL baseballs.
As a Giants fan, having a part of the organization so close to home has been great. Sure, I’ll have to drive about an hour and a half rather than the 15 minutes I’m used to, but I’ll still be making the new trip to Eugene to see my future big-league Giants when I can.
What’s In Store For Our Volcanoes?
It hasn’t been announced yet what’s in store for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, but the Giants are no more. Was the fact that the Volcanoes were an affiliate of my Giants the only reason I went to Volcanoes games? No, definitely not, but don’t get me wrong, it was freakin awesome. I was a regular at the park because of my love for the spirit of baseball. I love the game, I love being at the park, the sounds, smells, all of it.
I already said that the ballpark is my happy place, and I’ll reiterate, there’s no place I’d rather be than at the park! Major League Baseball has already confirmed that baseball will be played in Salem-Keizer in 2021. I assume some sort of supplemental league will be put together where undrafted college kids get a second chance to be seen. Nothing has been made official, but the direction the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will be heading in should be made public soon.
Whatever the outcome is, I’m most happy that there will be baseball still in Volcanoes stadium. Whoever ends up playing in the park, I’ll be there. There are way too many memories and good times had there for me not to go back. Whatever happens next, I’m excited for the new chapter of our Volcanoes and will be there every step of the way. You can guarantee you still got regulars in us!