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More hosts needed to house baseball players for summer/



When the Elliott family heard Portland was going to have summer college wood-bat baseball, they immediately knew they wanted to root, root, root for the home team.

Now they’ve decided to take a part of the team into their home.

The Elliotts have volunteered to be a host family for the Portland Pickles, who will begin their inaugural, 2 1/2-month season on June 3.

Rob and Tiffany Elliott and two of their three children live about a half-mile from Walker Stadium in Lents Park, where the Pickles will play 30 regular-season home games.

The proximity makes being a host family even more of a no-brainer for a family that loves its baseball (and softball).

Rob is an assistant coach for the Portland Interscholastic League softball champion Franklin Quakers.

Gracie Elliott is Franklin’s starting sophomore third baseman.

Tiffany is a lifelong fan who grew up playing both sports in San Leandro, California, and rooting for the Oakland A’s.

Seventh-grader Andrew Elliott plays in Cleveland’s Junior Baseball program.

“We all love baseball,” Rob says. “When we heard about the new (Great West League), we were excited, because there’s no Portland Beavers anymore. So this is something we can go watch and be involved in.”DILLON

Host families are the lifeblood of many a minor-league sports organization, including the Class A Hillsboro Hops and Western Hockey League Portland Winterhawks.

The Pickles, who are owned in part by former Seattle Mariners play-by-play broadcaster Ken Wilson, still need more families like the Elliotts, especially because players are expected to arrive in a week or less to play for manager J.J. Altobelli, a former Oregon Ducks star.

Tiffany immediately liked the idea of having an 18- to 22-year-old ballplayer — who could be from California or Hawaii or Australia or elsewhere — take up temporary residence in the family’s spare bedroom. But she needed questions answered. What would the Elliotts be obligated to do? What ground rules can they make?

Team officials visited their home last week and went over all the basics.

“There will be plenty of house rules,” Rob says. “Like, this isn’t a party house, and (the player) will have to be quiet at a certain point each night.”

Rob goes to work early in the mornings for PGE in Northwest Portland. Tiffany works days, too, at Fred Meyer’s corporate offices near Cleveland High.

“I got reassurance that everything gets reported directly to the manager, and if there’s any problem or conflict, to let the team know about it,” Rob says.

Both Rob and Tiffany are looking at the positives of playing host to a player who, as they say in baseball trade circles, is to be named later.

“We don’t know yet who we’re getting, but that doesn’t matter,” Tiffany says. “We figure he has to be mature and driven and has worked hard to get where he’s at. I’m hoping our kids will be able to look at him and see that hard work does pay off.”

Adds Rob: “These were all the best players at their high schools, good athletes. They’re striving to become a Triple-A or major leaguer someday, so they’re goal-oriented.”

Tiffany says she believes her family, which includes 21-year-old daughter Shelby in Woodburn, will bond with their visitor, and vice versa.

“I believe he will be thankful for the opportunity to stay with us — we’re a great team,” she says. “The important thing is communication. We have to know each other’s schedule. Manners are important around here, too, and privileges are earned.”

At the Elliotts, and throughout Southeast Portland and elsewhere in the Portland area, the excitement is building for the Pickles’ arrival.

“A lot of the girls softball team and the baseball boys at Franklin have been talking about the Pickles,” Tiffany says, “and they’re excited to go to the games.

“Even with our kids playing ball, too, we’re going to make it to a lot of the games. The park will be busy. A lot of new people will be there to see the team.”

(To learn more about being a Pickles host family, go to portlandpicklesbaseball.com or contact Grant Wilson, 503-775-3080, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

sbrandon@portlandtribune.com

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