Butte’s rich baseball history is not all of so long ago.
While The Mining City was a western states entry for much of the 20th century because of its action and progression in the Mines League and Copper League, interest in America’s pastime seems to have waned locally in more recent times.
It is odd for it to be without a defined home beyond the Senior Little League level.
Alumni Coliseum’s baseball portion is being leveled for progress, for accommodation of Montana Tech’s expanding football needs and wishes, as well for other demands being forwarded by the college on the campus location. The bottom of the ninth came and went as 50 years of American Legion, Pioneer League professional minor league and Montana Tech college (into the 1970s anyway) baseball will have been plowed under at the site by summer’s end.
It is not so much a time to fume and mourn as one to rally and innovate. For next year, at least, the Butte Miners and, hopefully, a resurrected Butte Muckers program will play on the Senior Little League fields Copper Mountain Youth Sports Park.
They will be day games. The cap that covers the reclamation site cannot be punched through to allow the erection of light standards that would be needed to illuminate night games. Hopefully, another spot will be acquired to sustain a needed Butte summer sports program and diversion.
Fields located northeast of the Butte Civic Center are being considered, but extended reclamation work would be necessary there, too. Positives about the location include availability of locker rooms and parking at the Civic Center. Also, the mid-town location makes for better accessibility for residents, and the bus terminal sits only across the parking lot from a proposed ballfield site, which would be handy for transportation purposes. Traffic could be emptied from the lots both ways on Civic Center Road, just as it is after other events held at the arena.
Baseball fans can only hope American Legion baseball would eventually draw crowds that sizeable again. With a little community growth, maybe a Pioneer League team or college summer league team would again be interested. It’s OK. We can all dream.
State championships have eluded Butte American Legion baseball for 60 years, but the summer endeavor has continued to exist as a nice common denominator for the local athletes who have wanted to, and been able to, participate. Sports camps, summer jobs, vacations, etc., all compete with the program, easily as fiercely as do Royals and Scarlets.
However, fans, not just baseball fans, should remember that the last decade at Alumni Coliseum in summertime saw Colt Anderson play shortstop and pitch, and Rob Johnson catch and pitch, both for the Butte Miners, and Bryon Wilson perform at second base for the Butte Muckers. The experience was likely a help to all three – Anderson, a safety with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles; Johnson, a catcher with the New York Mets of the National League, and Wilson. U.S. Ski Team member who captured the Bronze Medal in men’s freestyle skiing moguls at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
It is a good history that needs to continue as a rewarding future for Butte youth.