2014 WCL All-Star Game Washed Out
By Bob Webster, West Coast League Contributing Writer
July 21, 2014
Even though rain canceled the All-Star Game, the 2014 West Coast League All-Star Game festivities in Klamath Falls were a huge success. Things got started on Sunday, July 20 with a Welcome Party, followed by a Luncheon and Home Run Derby before rain washed out the All-Star game Monday evening.
The festivities started with a Welcome Party at the Aftershock Sports Bar & Grill hosted by the Klamath Falls Gems owners Jerry and Lisa Walker along with the front office staff. Team owners, general managers, managers, coaches and members of the WCL All-Stars gathered to meet and greet and have some fun that sometimes the rigors of the regular season inhibit.
On Monday afternoon a luncheon was held at Reames Country Club. The emcee was Erik Oas, media relations director and Voice of the Gems. After short speeches by Chip Massie, executive director of Klamath County Chamber of Commerce and Dennis Koho, president of the West Coast League, Gems general manager Lisa Walker gave a touching speech, thanking her husband Jerry and the rest of the staff and fellow speakers for the time and effort they put into the All-Star festivities. Next, the players introduced themselves to a thunderous applause for each and every one of them.
Next was featured speaker Bobby Evans of the San Francisco Giants. Evans assists senior vice-president and general manager Brian Sabean in all Major League and amateur contract negotiations, along with player acquisitions via trade or free agency and all areas of Major League operations. Bobby talked about the importance of behavior on and off the field. “It’s not a private life anymore with social media”, said Evans. He also said that “baseball is a marathon; you can’t get too low or high”. He also mentioned being thoughtful about balancing a new spouse and Minor League baseball.
Bobby gave a meaningful talk to the players in the room on what to expect and how to handle going up the ranks of professional baseball and the challenges that will appear.
Klamath Falls team owner Jerry Walker ended the program with a nice speech about being in the Giants 2012 World Series Parade in San Francisco. He also owns the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a Short Season Single-A affiliate of the Giants.
From there, it was over to Kiger Stadium where the all-stars took batting practice and prepared for the professional scouting combine, which was run by the coaches. The short combine included running 60’s for time, fielding and throwing, all of which were evaluated under the watchful eye of the 14 pro scouts in attendance.
The Home Run Derby followed and included one player from each of the twelve teams in the league. At times hitting in a downpour, after three rounds Oregon State’s Gabe Clark of the Victoria HarbourCats was victorious, out slugging late-addition Corey VanDomelen (Linfield College) of the Cowlitz Black Bears 4-1. Clark hit 10 home runs in the first round. He was joined in the semi-finals by Vince Fernandez (UC Riverside) of Yakima Valley, future UC Santa Barbara slugger Austin Bush of Kitsap and VanDomelen.
Katie Harman (Miss America, 2002) was on hand to sing both the Canadian and American national anthems, but persistent rains and a very wet field made playing conditions unsafe and the game was postponed by WCL president Dennis Koho and Gems owner Jerry Walker.
After the game was called I spoke with Don Ambers, chairman of the Kiger Association, about the frequency of rainouts and he replied “In 31 years associated with the ballpark, this is the first game postponed because of rain. There have been a few rain delays, but never a postponement”.
It was the first rain out in the Gems’ four years in the West Coast League.
Even with the game being rained out, it was a very nice All-Star weekend in Klamath Falls. Too bad for the players who were here to showcase their skills in front of many scouts and to take part in the All-Star game.