North Marion to host summer baseball league
For the next month, North Marion High School will become Pickle Country.
With the 2020 high school baseball season canceled, Bob Brack Stadium is set to see its first live action in more than a year when the Portland Pickles baseball club and the Wild Wild West League descend on Hubbard for a month-long season beginning Saturday.
The Pickles, along with three other clubs — the Portland Gherkins, the West Linn Knights and the Gresham Greywolves — are set to kick off a truncated summer league in which they combine to play 50 games in 29 days, including a playoff that will culminate in a champion for the newly-formed Wild Wild West League.
"A week and a half ago, I got a call from (the Pickles)," North Marion head baseball coach Randy Brack said."They were looking for a place to play."
Brack and his coaching staff had been keeping the North Marion baseball park groomed since spring in case the Huskies got the green light to play. Although the summer Legion schedule eventually got sidelined like the high school season, word got out that Bob Brack Stadium was baseball-ready.
Normally, the Pickles and their affiliates would play their season closer to home, but with Multnomah County still locked in Phase 1 reopening due to COVID-19, they needed to find a temporary field to host games in a county that was in Phase 2.
Enter North Marion High School.
"Evoking baseball's barnstorming traditions of yesteryear, the innovative Wild Wild West League will both honor tradition and reach to the future," the league's website states.
Seating will be limited to a maximum of 200 guests spread out around the park to stay within current COVID-19 guidelines.
"They've thought it out really well," Brack said. "People and players, as well as the attendance of everybody that comes, they're going to be a temperature checked at the beginning. They'll be working and making sure everybody is keeping their distance, so they've done a pretty good job thinking it out."
The Portland Pickles will be in charge of all operations, from seating to ticketing to concessions. The only thing left for Brack and company to handle is making sure the park is ready to host.
"It'll be good for us to sit back and watch how they handle everything with the crowds and how they go about that," Brack said. "That's going to be a good learning experience for us because that's what we're going to be doing this next school year."
Seating at Bob Brack Stadium is spread out between several vantage points to catch the action. Along with stadium seating directly behind home plate, there is a seating box to the immediate right, along with seats along the first base foul line. A raised wooden boardwalk extends into foul territory into right field where guests can set up with their chairs. Standing room is available behind the home dugout and around the concourse, as well as expanded space in the left field foul territory for shaded seating.
With summer college baseball canceled throughout the country, many top Oregon baseball prospects will be featured on the rosters of the four clubs, such as Stanford senior outfielder Tim Tawa and Michigan pitcher Willie Weiss.
"Because they're local kids, they're Oregon kids, and it's right here, it makes sense to jump in," Brack said. "The rosters I've seen, there's some very good talent."
Athletes from Washington State, Oregon State, Portland, Toledo, Hawaii, and other Division I schools will be peppered throughout the rosters.
But if fans are looking for a local underdog to root for, the Gherkins are composed almost entirely of community college players from Chemeketa, Clackamas, Linn-Benton and Yakima community colleges. Among them are former North Marion players Hunter Wierstra, Noah Wierstra and Brady Hansen, who missed their senior season this past spring. The trio went on to sign for Chemeketa Community College, whose coaching staff is also heading up the Gherkins, making it a natural pipeline for the three former Huskies.
"We probably would have had a few more North Mairon guys had we known about this sooner, but they had already dedicated themselves to other teams prior to this happening, so they didn't want to back out of their commitments to these teams they're playing on," Brack said.
Tickets will run $25 each and are available at the Wild Wild West League homepage (portlandpicklesbaseball.com). Additional information such as schedules, player rosters and the league's coronavirus safety plan are available on the website as well.
For those who can't or do not wish to attend games in person, the Wild Wild West League will broadcast all of its games for free on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
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