Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam will be the site of college-level baseball every weekend this summer through mid-August.
Summer collegiate leagues typically feature players honing their skills for their college teams or hoping to catch the eye of a professional organization. Like professional teams, they use wooden bats. The league model for the Cascade League is a little different in that instead of the teams located in various towns and teams travelling back and forth to those towns, all the games will be played at Olympic Stadium and every player will travel to Hoquiam for the games. Ben Krueger, the league founder and its commissioner, said the plan is for one feature game on Friday night and four games on both Saturday and Sunday.
Until Grays Harbor moves into Stage 4 of the state’s pandemic reopening plan, there will be no spectators. When fans are allowed, admission will be free this year, Krueger said.
“We are beyond thrilled to reinvigorate collegiate summer baseball in the city of Hoquiam,” Krueger said in a news release. “Olympic Stadium is a historic venue in the Pacific Northwest, accessible in just under tWo hours from Seattle and 2 1/2 from Portland. We’d like to thank Brian Shay and Tracy Wood from the City of Hoquiam, as well as Mayor Ben Winkelman and Grays Harbor College head baseball Coach Mike Bruner for welcoming us with open arms.”
Krueger said each team will have about 25 players on the roster. The rules require the players to be part of college programs and allow for each team to have two recent high school players if those players have signed a letter of intent to play college baseball.
The players pay a fee of $950 each, which covers uniforms and pays for umpires and other costs of running the league. The players cover lodging and travel costs on their own. Players are assigned to teams, mostly based on dividing teams evenly in terms of talent.
This is the second year for the league. Krueger said the talent pool is expected to be a little better this year because COVID-19 restrictions mean that some summer leagues aren’t playing, particularly ones that relied on fan attendance. For instance, the Alaska Baseball League, well known for turning out players who have gone on to play professionally, has canceled its season.
The historic, all-wooden stadium has been used for high school, semi-pro and minor league professional baseball over the years. Krueger said the league has a contract with the City of Hoquiam, which owns the stadium, for this year and hopes to come back next year. He said the league doesn’t need to make money and the motivation for running it is as a college developmental league. Because of the COVID restrictions, there won’t be any concessions at the stadium this year once fans are allowed to attend, Krueger said, but he hopes there will be next year if the league is back.
The league has a preseason event in Caldwell, Idaho, this weekend and opens play in Hoquiam next weekend. Games are scheduled every weekend through Aug. 16, with playoffs the final weekend.