by Howie Stalwick
Spokane baseball fans get their first peek at the Alex Rodriguez wannabes of the Texas Rangers when the Indians make their home debut Saturday night at Avista Stadium. A sellout crowd of more than 7,000 is expected for the Indians' first home game as a Rangers affiliate.
It's also the first home game of the club's 100th anniversary season. Baseball started in Spokane more than 100 years ago, but in 1903 the team started using the name Indians.
"We wanted to honor all the players, staff -- everyone who has ever been involved with the team over the past 100 years," says Otto Klein, an Indians' vice president. "We also want to highlight how much this is Spokane's team, and has always been that way."
One attraction fans can look forward to is an outdoor exhibit documenting the history of the team, with archival photos from the MAC and the Spokesman-Review.
All five games of the opening homestand (Saturday through Wednesday) with the Everett Aquasox, a Seattle Mariners farm club, begin at 6:30 pm. A fireworks show follows Saturday's game.
The Indians aligned with Texas after growing frustrated with the inconsistent (read: often downright pathetic) level of talent provided by the Kansas City Royals. The new manager of the Indians, Darryl Kennedy, has won three league championships and three league Manager of the Year awards in his five previous years as a manager in the Texas organization.
Like all other Northwest League teams, the Indians' roster will consist mostly or entirely of players in their first, second or third pro seasons. Virtually all rookie pros in the league come directly from college programs, rather than high school.
The Northwest League is one of two short-season Class A leagues in minor league professional baseball. Short-season schedules -- about half as long as in most minor leagues -- run approximately from the third week of June through early September. Short-season Class A is one notch above Rookie, the lowest of the six classifications of minor league baseball (including independent leagues, which operate without major league affiliations).
The Indians play 76 games -- 38 home, 38 away. Home games start at 6:30 pm, except for 3:05 pm starts on Friday, July 4, three Sundays (July 6, 13 and 27), and Thursday, Aug. 14. KJRB (790 AM) broadcasts all games live, with veteran broadcaster Bob Robertson back in the booth.
As usual, all lower-level box seats at Avista Stadium sold out as season tickets. Single-game tickets are priced at $8 and $5. Children 12 and under and military with proper identification receive $1 off the $5 seats. Gates open one hour prior to game time. No outside food or beverages are permitted in the stadium.
The Avista Stadium ticket office is open 9 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday. Tickets may be ordered with credit cards by phoning the Indians (535-2922) or TicketsWest (535-SEAT).
The Famous Chicken, the comedic mascot who has drawn laughs at sporting events throughout the United States and Canada, performs July 26. The Chicken drew a sellout crowd at his last Spokane appearance in 1997. And don't miss Hat Night, sponsored by The Inlander, on Aug. 13,
when the first 1,000 fans will get free Indians
For more information, visit www.spokaneindiansbaseball.com
Publication date: 06/19/03