Baseball stands gone without a word

Remember a few years ago when the Butte doctor wanted to tear down that house that was basically falling off its foundation so he could make the area around his brand-new office building look nice?

The historic people went crazy, fighting the doctor at every turn before he was finally allowed to demolish the dump when nobody else wanted to buy it.

Remember when they tore down the Greek Cafe on the corner of Park and Wyoming a couple of years ago?

The building was a hideously ugly structure with little architectural value. It was in total disrepair, and its only tenants were pigeons.

Yet when the demolition crew showed up to tear down the building — after years of fighting the historic people the doctor got to know all too well — guy chained himself to the building like he was Fonzy trying to save Inspiration Point.

As I walked to the foundation of where the baseball stands used to sit at Alumni Coliseum at Montana Tech a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but wonder where these people were.

When the baseball stands came tumbling down a few weeks ago in the name of progress for the Montana Tech, nobody seemed to care about the history that was being thrown out the window.

This is not to say that Tech shouldn’t have torn down the stadium. The school is putting in a state-of-the-art artificial playing surface for the football team this summer, and that project will help the team take the next step toward bringing a national title to the Mining City.

Tech also has plans for a dorm that will help the campus keep up with the growing school so it can become an even bigger asset to our community. Keeping the baseball stands there would only hold the school back.

Still, it would have been nice to at least hear a couple people yell “please don’t” before we lost a piece of history that we’ll never get back.

I didn’t realize the stands were being torn down until I showed up on campus one day and they were gone.

I walked up and stood on the cement where the doorway used to be, and I had to fight back tears as I looked at the footprint of history.

I looked to my left and pictured the great Jack Cavanaugh selling tickets to American Legion games.

“Hey Cav,” I remembered saying once as I entered the stadium to cover a game for the paper. “I brought my girlfriend with me, do I have to buy her a ticket?”

“No,” Cav said. “Having your girlfriend with you is definitely work.”

I looked farther left and saw where they used to sell the little baseball helmets full of fries at the Copper Kings games.

“Mom, can I pleeeaaasssee get one more? I don’t have a Giants helmet.”

Right over there is where they sold those little blue Copper Kings bats and all the other souvenirs I begged my parents to buy. Right there is where “Bill The Beer Nazi” always gave us killer deals.

When they took down the baseball stands at Alumni, they did more than demolish an old building. They tore down a part of me.

That’s where we mispronounced Cecil Fielder’s name was we chanted for the big fella to hit yet another home run in 1982.

It’s where my great uncle “Big Billy” took me and my brother to watch the Copper Kings when my dad was working out of town.

It’s where we chanted “Go Kings Go” with the rowdy crowds on quarter beer night. Yes, quarter beer night. Back in the 1980s, they actually had quarter beer night for minor league baseball games.

It’s where we got to the game early for a chance to see the San Diego Chicken.

Alumni is where I went 1-1 as a sumo wrestler, losing to Jeremy Bishop before beating Billy Dunmire. It’s where I lost a wrestling match with Chris Campbell for a foul ball that broke out the light above us.

It’s where I lent a helping hand as Dunmire and the boys ran former Duke basketball player Trajan Langdon out of baseball for good. It’s where I met Mike Veeck.

It’s where I covered my first sporting event as a sportswriter. It’s where I interviewed Rob Johnson for a story about him signing with the Mariners after Seattle drafted him in the 2004 draft.

It’s where I sat in the press box for thousands of innings next to the great Jim Hanley and learned more about baseball than I ever could have dreamed.

It’s where I watched Colt Anderson play shortstop, Bryon Wilson play second base and Johnson catch.

The baseball stands at Alumni were definitely in disrepair, and the new FieldTurf means baseball will no longer be played there. So it probably was time for the stands to go.

I just wish one of our history crusaders would have raised a stink to delay the demolition by a week or two.

Maybe then I could rest assured knowing that my beloved baseball park would be missed at least as much as that ugly old Greek Cafe.

— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who would have chained himself to the baseball stands if he knew the demolition date, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.

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