Memories of Wildcat Athletics: To Bubba and WNC athletics — RIP
Editor’s Note: Throughout the rest of 2016 Western Nevada College baseball and softball seasons, which is the last for WNC athletics, the Appeal is featuring columns every Sunday from those who are sharing their memories of the programs.
Since I graduated from high school in 1961, the things I remember may or may not be exactly correct or even true. I don’t remember anyone from the Jackrabbits’ basketball team since I never watched any of its games. I’ve never been to a softball game. I didn’t watch a single baseball game during the 2006 season either — 2007 was the first season I attended any home games at John L. Harvey Field. I liked to watch Cole Rohrbough pitch.
During the 2009 season, my wife and I decided to go to Grand Junction to find out what JUCO was all about. We were pleasantly surprised because WNC made its second appearance at JUCO that year, although its first round opponent was Howard College whose record was something like 54-0. Howard would eventually win the tournament. I know Howard was undefeated, but I don’t recall exactly how many wins it had. WNC lost that first game, but it was not a blowout. Outside of not winning a national championship, JUCO was fun. Each team had a set of player baseball cards with pictures and statistics. We went to JUCO again in 2012 where we discovered Suplizio Field had been reconfigured with chair back seats along the first base side. These seats cost more because they are in the shade. However, when your team plays, you get to sit in the shade without paying extra.
One year, I was all set to go to JUCO, but WNC stumbled. WNC won the SWAC (Scenic West Athletic Conference), so was the host for the Region 18 Tournament. WNC beat Salt Lake Community College in its first game to put Salt Lake into the loser’s bracket. WNC advanced to the championship round against Salt Lake which had to win two games to advance, whereas WNC only needed one win to go to the Western District Tournament. WNC lost both games.
Oh, the people I’ve seen at WNC. I saw former Sparks Mayor Bruce Breslow with former local sports broadcaster Jon Killoran at games; I think I saw Stephanie Arrigotti with some of the cast of “Damn Yankees” at one game; I also remember PA announcer Helaine Jesse who was later replaced by Helaine Morres; I saw Senator Dean Heller and Assemblyman Pete Livermore; I also saw Bob Sullivan, Tom Kubistant, Harvey Whittemore and Mark Paloolian; I remember Howard Collett filming games from center field from the bed of a pickup truck; and I remember a number of scouts attending games when Dylan Baker pitched for WNC (you could tell scouts because they had hand held radar guns and were not dressed in team garb).
One time at John L. Harvey Field, a hitter fouled a ball straight back, but instead of just hitting the screen, it continued under the netting and crashed into an empty seat behind home plate. The next day, the gap between the netting and the block wall was wired so a baseball could no longer go through. You can still see the repair today.
I vaguely remember road trips to nearby Scenic West outposts like Salt Lake City, Twin Falls, and Henderson. Like WNC, most players are not from the place where the teams call home. Kids just want to continue to play, so they go where they must in order to continue. That means parents, family and friends must also travel to watch their players play ball.
In 2010, WNC held Big League All-Star Bryce Harper to only two home runs in the four games in Carson City when College of Southern Nevada came to town. This is true because I looked it up from my scorebook. In my opinion, I think Harper is one of the reasons why the Nationals fired Matt Williams. We took a road trip to watch WNC play College of Southern Idaho in Idaho. We recognized Kevin Taylor’s grandparents at those games because they seemed to come to all of WNC’s home games. I think the grandfather was a math teacher.
I will miss watching WNC play (i.e. mostly win) on Fridays and Saturdays. Just before the 2016 WNC home baseball schedule began, our dog Bubba died from bone cancer which we were told is like pancreatic cancer in humans because it kills in a short time. To Bubba and WNC athletics, rest in peace.