There's a new game in town
A landmark event for this community will occur the evening of Tuesday, June 12, when the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks sprint onto their new home field at Loretta French Park in Chugiak.
The inaugural game against the Anchorage Bucs will double as the season opener for the Alaska Baseball League and open a new chapter in the history of a league that has brought Alaskans top-tier collegiate summer baseball since the 1970’s.
Visitors to Loretta French will notice there’s been a few changes at the field, which until now has been used primarily as the home of the Eagle River American Legion baseball team. A screen has been added behind home plate to protect fans sitting in the new bleachers — also built this spring. The dusty areas around the field were paved last fall, and a new press box was installed behind home plate. Also, advertising signs have been added to the chain link outfield fence, a touch that helps make the field feel more like a stadium.
A lot of hard work has gone into making the team’s arrival in our community a reality. Government officials with the state and municipality have worked closely with the team to ensure that the muni-owned field would be safe and fit for play this summer, and volunteers from the local baseball community have pitched in to get the playing surface in top shape. Even before the team announced it would move to Chugiak, a number of influential people worked behind the scenes to make the dream of bringing an ABL team to the area come true. Everyone who has worked on this project deserves kudos for doing their part to bring something positive to our town. To all of you who have worked toward reaching this goal, we offer our thanks — your work and cooperative spirit is what makes our community strong.
We feel one person involved with the team deserves to be singled out for his contributions to the new club. Since the idea of bringing a team to Chugiak-Eagle River was first hatched, booster club president Lee Jordan has been tirelessly working to raise funds and enthusiasm for the team. Although generating excitement for baseball in the dead winter was often an upstream battle, Jordan has been tirelessly promoting the team since the relocation became official last fall. As founder of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star, Jordan’s legacy as a force for community-building was already firmly established before he took on this latest endeavor. That he has embraced this new role with such tenacity is a testament to Jordan’s love for Chugiak-Eagle River, and no one should be prouder when the Chinooks take the field in their brand new red, white and blue uniforms.
Having an Alaska Baseball League team in our town is a tremendous opportunity and a gift to be cherished. Now that the team has arrived, it will be our job to make the players feel welcome in our home and show the team how appreciative we are that they’ve chosen to share our community. The best way we can do that is to come out in force at 7 p.m. on June 12 to cheer them on, and then continue coming out all summer long. A complete game schedule is available at www.cerchinooks.com. All games are free, so there’s no excuse not to show our new team some hometown love by taking your family out to the new “old ball game” this summer.