Thanks for the honor, but others deserve recognition
It was an honor to have my name considered for attachment to the baseball field at Loretta French Park. It is also humbling because there are so many people more deserving of recognition than am I. Among the first to bring youth baseball to Chugiak-Eagle River were Paul “Bud” Fillmore, Stan Nickerson, “Hunk” Petranovich, and Max Pyles, Little League coaches in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Teams from Chugiak and Eagle River first played in the Katmai League, based in Mountain View. When new teams wanted to form, Katmai’s eight-team maximum would have been exceeded. The solution was to form a separate four-team league here, leading to Knik Little League’s formation 50 years ago.
Making this possible were sponsors Bill Stephens of Peters Creek Fuel, Tom Slanker of Far North Fuel, Glenn Briggs of Eagle River Shopping Center, and the Eagle River Lions Club. Had they not provided the money for uniforms, bats, balls, league fees, and insurance, our youth would not have been able to remain in organized baseball.
The community continued its support in 1966 when players who became 13 were no longer eligible for Little League. A Babe Ruth team was formed in order for the boys to pursue their sport for another three years. One year later, the local team was runner-up in the Northwest Regional Finals and the year after that went on to participate in the Babe Ruth World Series. That success made it easier to establish an American Legion team at Chugiak High School. Several years later, baseball became an official high school sport.
In a brief item in the July 31 Star, I was mistakenly given credit for bringing the Chinooks to Chugiak-Eagle River. It was Rep. Bill Stoltze who was the person responsible for our college-level program. He gained the willing support of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and the Chugiak-Eagle River Parks and Recreation District Board of Supervisors. It was his effort that deserves credit. From the exhibition game he sponsored during the 2011 Bear Paw Festival grew a 70-member booster club that raises funds and encourages fan attendance at Chinooks games. I am fortunate to be a part of that effort.
This community has always supported youth sports and the many organizations now involved point to that continued support. It has been rewarded by multiple state championships and an Olympic Gold Medal. The latest is Knik Little League’s baseball and softball championships this season. Congratulations to everyone involved!
— Lee Jordan