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Season to remember at Las Vegas Ballpark not over yet

Updated September 2, 2019 - 6:52 pm

It wasn’t the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, though those waiting for the traffic light to turn green at Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard might have heard a small clamor.

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of Pete Alonso hitting the last pitch ever thrown at old Cashman Field for a walk-off home run.

Bobby Thomson would have been impressed with Alonso’s dramatic flair.

When he arrived at home plate, the shirtless Las Vegas slugger — his teammates had ripped his jersey from his back — thrust two fists toward the press box where, as if on cue, a tile fell from the ceiling.

It was time to build a new ballpark.

The first season played in it came to a close on Monday.

Make that the first regular season. Because when El Paso lost to Sacramento Sunday night, and Las Vegas beat Tacoma, the Aviators earned a Pacific Coast League playoff berth.

Pooling a party

The players who had not yet been been called up by the Athletics high-fived and hugged. Eventually they made their way to the swimming pool beyond the fence in right-center field where they fouled it with beer, cheap champagne and perhaps a stale Baby Ruth.

None raised a celebratory fist and gestured to Suite 11 at Las Vegas Ballpark, where Don Logan usually watches the games.

The team president has been with the club for all but one of its 37 seasons, through every iteration: Stars, 51s, Reyes de Plata (Tuesday only), Aviators. And through every color scheme: Brown and orange; red, white and blue; purple and teal; blue and white; blue, orange and white; navy blue, orange, tangerine, gold, yellow, gray. The whole darn palette.

He’s Donnie Baseball, or at least Las Vegas’ version of such. He wasn’t the guy who wrote the $150 million check for Las Vegas Ballpark, but he was the one who got it built — even if they didn’t have him throw out the first pitch on Opening Night.

“We knew it was going to be a special beginning here,” Logan said on Monday. “The way that everybody responded, the energy that’s here — look at today, it’s Labor Day, it’s a holiday. We clinched last night, and we still have a great crowd (announced at 9,511). But you would have been greedy if you expected what was able to happen here.”

With all respect due Seth Brown, who belted 37 home runs in 104 games — including the first into the aforementioned cement pond back in April— the ultimate star of the 2019 season was the ballpark. Attendance virtually doubled over last season at Cashman as Las Vegas Ballpark attracted 650,934 spectators to Downtown Summerlin for a minor league-leading average of 9,299.

Only regret

As Logan said recently, it should have been the best year of his baseball life. And in many ways it was. But on May 18 he lost his father, and it just wasn’t the same without the elder Don Logan at the ballpark.

His son could have used the moral support.

Opening a new ballpark is a little more complicated than opening a new Burger King or Starbucks, neither of which has fans like the Aviators, who complained when the giant oscillating devices manufactured by the Big Ass Fan Company of Lexington, Kentucky, failed to cool the grandstand as advertised.

Aviators fans also complained on social media when the team’s spaceman logo was unveiled.

After reporting to just one owner, or perhaps a father and son, for much of his tenure, Logan had to kowtow to a whole boardroom of them at Howard Hughes Corporation headquarters in Las Vegas and Dallas. On some nights, it seemed there were more suits in the suites than in the Brooks Brothers’ warehouse.

But as always is the case when it comes to local baseball, Don Logan had last ups.

During the seventh inning Monday, he was sipping on a well-deserved beer, accepting pats on the back from people in Suite 11. These included Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland (and his family), who stayed until the bottom of the ninth because Engelland is a gamer.

When the Aviators hung on for a 3-2 victory in a snappy 2 hours, 10 minutes, nothing fell from the press box ceiling.

The last day of the baseball season usually is one for reflection and introspection, but this year it will have to wait. It has been a season to remember, but there’s still more baseball to be played.

It’s funny, but nobody seems to complain about the spaceman logo anymore.

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

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