Cashman Field was backdrop for Raiders’ first Las Vegas foray

It has been proclaimed on billboards that the Raiders are coming to Las Vegas in 2020.

Which would be the second time.

The first time was Aug. 24, 1964 — the night the Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers 34-20 in an American Football League preseason game at old Cashman Field.

Old Cashman Field existed on virtually the same site as new Cashman Field, or at least the Cashman Field that opened in 1983. The downtown ballpark will host its final two Pacific Coast League baseball games Sunday night and Monday afternoon before the 51s move to Summerlin next spring.

Pro football archives are sketchy when it comes to confirming neutral site AFL exhibition results. But the source for the Raiders’ game played in Las Vegas is fairly impeachable.

“I remember that the showgirls wore sweaters that night and we won the game,” Raiders owner Al Davis said during a meet-and-greet in his box at Oakland Coliseum a few seasons before his death in 2011.

Nevada Public Radio broadcaster and local historian Michael Green provided details during a two-part podcast that aired in 2016.

Raiders running back Clem Daniels scored on a 68-yard run. Future Hall of Famer George Blanda, who would star for the Raiders at the end of long, long, long pro football career, threw a touchdown pass for the Oilers, who were coached by the legendary Slingin’ Sammy Baugh.

Tickets were priced between $3.50 and $10. Old Cashman Field was reconfigured to hold 15,000 spectators but was only about half-filled.

The cheerleaders were, indeed, showgirls from the Desert Inn and Stardust, which served as team hosts.

As for them wearing sweaters, NPR deferred to Al Davis.

It’s in the game

Another little-known fact about Cashman Field is that it appears in a popular video game.

The 51s’ ballpark served as inspiration for Las Venturas Bandits Stadium, the home of the Las Venturas Bandits in “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”

In the video game, the ballpark is abandoned except for a “Sprunk” soft drink machine and a discarded bat in the dugout. In another nod to reality, the scoreboard shows the Bandits ahead 8-7 in the second inning.

The stadium also appears as host to a contrived home run derby as part of EA Sports’ Triple Play 2001 baseball video game. The outfield walls featured gigantic targets for its “Big League Challenge” and the stands are packed, with fans cheering each home run.

It would appear the pitching in the San Andreas League or in the Big League Challenge is no better than it is in the PCL.

Put it on the board

It was the ultimate Las Vegas long shot.

With Cashman Field set to lower the curtain on baseball Monday, the list of people who will say they were there in 1992 when a slugger named Dave Staton hit a ball off the scorecard probably will grow.

Of all the home runs struck at the old ballyard, Staton’s was the most prodigious. The scoreboard at Cashman sits 474 feet from home plate and is duly marked, or at least was until advertising signs were placed over the markers. Staton’s blast hit halfway up, bending light fixtures.

Estimated distance: 550 feet. Staton and Kevin McReynolds are believed to be the only players in Cashman’s 36-year history to hit a ball off the board during a game.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, excluding those Big League Challenge (home run contests),” said 51s media mogul Jim Gemma, who was official scorer the night Dave Staton imitated Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.”

“I know (Jose) Canseco hit the light towers during those things. But during a PCL game, I’ve never seen anybody hit it over the scoreboard. The only two guys I’ve seen hit it are McReynolds and Staton.”

Bolt strikes pitch

A cursory attempt by the Las Vegas Lights to add Usain Bolt to the roster officially has fallen by the wayside as the world-class sprinter made his pro soccer debut in a friendly for the Central Coast Mariners, a club side in the Australian A League.

Wearing No. 95 (his world record 100 meters time), Bolt wasn’t that great. But he didn’t look out of place, either. Sort of like Michael Jordan when he tried to play baseball for the White Sox. Bolt’s presence attracted an estimated 10,000 paying customers, about 3,000 more than average.

And now you know why the Lights considered pursuing him.

In a related note, the Lights remained mum on the possibility of the Jamaican bobsled team forming a dynamite midfield.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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