Updated April 10, 2019 - 12:06 am
Let the clock on the giant LED scoreboard show that at 7:14 p.m. on April 9, 2019, Chris Bassitt of the Las Vegas Aviators threw the first pitch to Mike Gerber of the Sacramento River Cats that resulted in a swing and a miss at what was supposed to be a spectacular debut of Las Vegas Ballpark in trendy downtown Summerlin.
This was before trendy downtown Summerlin became windy downtown Summerlin.
This was before the ballpark lights flickered on and off during the bottom of the second, which may not have had anything to do with the 40 mph winds. But in the press box, it wasn’t long before media types began to invoke the name of Stu Miller, the diminutive San Francisco Giants pitcher once blown off the mound during an All-Star Game at Candlestick Park.
If you were one of three spectators who still keep score at ballgames, you probably made a notation on your scorecard. Notations on a scorecard are still an excellent way to record baseball posterity, provided you don’t slop nacho cheese on it as a result of a desert sandstorm.
Or raw sewage. For what local baseball fan who was at old Cashman Field on the night of Aug. 22, 2015 will ever forget the part that date played in the evolution of beautiful Las Vegas Ballpark?
Call it The Night the Plumbing Died. About 10 minutes before Mayor Carolyn Goodman was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, a toilet behind the first-base dugout backed up and spewed bubbly crude that was more odoriferous than the Chicago Cubs bullpen.
If faced with a choice, you’d probably take the 40 mph winds, although many in Tuesday’s announced capacity crowd of 11,036 apparently didn’t see it that way. By the top of the third, beautiful Las Vegas Ballpark was two-thirds empty. It looked like most games at not-so-beautiful Cashman Field when there weren’t postgame fireworks or complimentary bobbleheads.
Opening Night damper
What a shame said Aviators president Don Logan, the man who worked nearly 15 years to bring a ballpark like this to town and experience the emotion of Opening Night, only to have a lot of it blow into left field with gourmet hot dog wrappers and other ballpark refuse.
“You control what you can control,” Logan said after making his way from the wind tunnel to the press box. “I feel bad for the people. You saw it, it was packed. A lot of people showed up here tonight.”
Logan answered questions about the new ballyard, but he also was asked if the back of the Opening Night ticket stub had a wind check in addition to a rain check.
“It’s still beautiful,” he said of the $150 million emerald jewel that was carved from desert granite beyond the Golden Knights’ practice rink in just 14 months.
That it is, but when the winds went from 19 mph after Bassitt tossed his warmup pitches to Wizard of Oz force by the top of the second, the consensus among those in the press box was that not even Mother Nature likes the hideous Aviators logo.
Pool goes lacking
During the bottom of the third, the Aviators’ Sheldon Neuse unleashed a drive that appeared headed for the swimming pool beyond the right-field power alley. The wall of wind knocked it down, and the ball appeared to carom off the top of the center-field fence. Instead of stopping at third, Neuse was able to score when the relay throw from River Cats’ second baseman Breyvic Valera got lost in a squall.
“Tonight with the wind, you really can’t go out and experience it,” Logan said of Las Vegas Ballpark. “This place has a wow factor.”
On Opening Night, it also had a wind factor that put a damper on the festivities and everything else that wasn’t nailed down.
After Logan finished with his impromptu news conference, the lights on the outfield standards began to flicker again between innings, as if they were synchronized with the thumping music being played over the public address system.
You might have made a note of that on our scorecard, too, had the wind not sent it sailing toward the California Pizza Kitchen and the other tony nightspots in the Downtown Summerlin shopping promenade across the street, where Don Logan said baseball fans probably still would be partying and perhaps invoking the name of diminutive Stu Miller.