6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon


As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians’ thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.

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Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls will host the 2015 Babe Ruth Baseball World Series in August. | Courtesy: Travel Oregon

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians’ thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.

Although the Beaver State lacks a major league team, it does have plenty to offer for those who want to enjoy a slice of Americana at a baseball stadium.

Click through for six key facts about the business of baseball in Oregon.

1. It’s growing.

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Walker Stadium in Lents: The future home of the Portland Pickles.

The Oregon City Mud Turtles launched this year and played their first game in May. The team will compete in the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League.

The Portland Pickles will move into Walker Stadium in the Lents neighborhood, capitalizing on a public-private partnership between the city and team owner Ken Wilson.

2. Geographic diversity abounds


An (incomplete) rendering of baseball offerings in Oregon.

Most of the state is covered by the West Coast League. The premier summer college baseball league in the northwest serves Medford, Corvallis, Klamath Falls and Bend.

Short-season Northwest League Class A teams serve the larger markets. So, future major leaguers are accessible to most everyone in the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.

3. Demand varies

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A Salem-Keizer Volcano takes a hack in the 2013 season. | Courtesy: Flickr — CJ Anderson

The Hillsboro Hops are a fresh commodity and finished in the top-three in the Northwest League of Professional Baseball in 2013 and 2014. Salem-Keizer and Eugene have been edged out by the Hops, which is impressive considering they play in smaller markets.

Bend owns most of the West Coast League’s attendance records and has sold the most tickets three times in the last five years.

Other, much smaller leagues, like the Northwest Collegiate Baseball League, don’t track sales.

4. Knight money is involved

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Goss Stadium shortly after the Corvallis Knights started playing there | Courtesy: Flickr — Chris Brooks

The Corvallis Knights are named after Penny Knight, who in 1990 began bankrolling the team as its “primary sponsor.” The Knights were founded in Beaverton in 1990, and moved to Corvallis from Gresham in 2007. They play in Goss Stadium: When the team began playing there, it agreed to pay OSU $900 per game plus actual maintenance material costs.

(The Knights are big fans of college baseball. Phil Knight, a renowned Duck, played a critical role in the Beavers retaining coach Pat Casey.)

Hillsboro Hops: A Portlandia baseball experience

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Opening day for the Hillsboro Hops. | Courtesy: Flickr — ryan harvey

Capitalizing on craft brew-mania has paid off for the Hillsboro Hops. The team’s marketing plan has been successful in its short existence: Their first batch of T-shirts sold out in less than a day.

Then they broke the mold for a small market, short-season team by finishing in the top 25 for annual minor league merchandising in 2014:

“Playing only 38 games and going up against triple-A and double-A teams that play 70 home games — I mean, 80 or 90 percent of your merchandise sales come from the games, so we never thought we’d be able to beat out triple-A and double-A teams,” said executive vice president and general manager K.L. Wombacher to sportslogo.net.

With that said, Portland was named one of the country’s 10 worst baseball cities. According to an OregonLive.com report, Wallet Hub ranked cities according to “number of top-level teams (MLB/college Div. 1), their on-field success, franchise value, ticket prices and a variety of more subjective criteria such as ‘fan friendliness.’ “

6. Seattle natives need our help

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Courtesy: Flickr — Keith Allison

If you want to take in a big-league team, head to Seattle, where the Mariners have finished in the bottom half of MLB average attendance for the last eight years. It’s safe to say they would appreciate your patronage. (Don’t expect to pay less than $10 per craft brew, though.)