Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | 5 p.m.
Talk about taking a walk down memory lane.
Strolling through the concourse at Cashman Field on April 17 during the Las Vegas 51s home opener, I could not help reminiscing about watching baseball games at the stadium during my childhood.
One of my fondest sports memories as a child in Las Vegas is sitting in the grass behind the outfield fence during the stadium's early years and waiting with hundreds of other children to chase home run balls.
Cashman opened in 1983 when the San Diego Padres brought professional baseball to Southern Nevada with the Triple-A Las Vegas Stars.
Now affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays and called the Las Vegas 51s, spending the evening watching the home team still provides the same thrill.
And, despite being in my 30s, I would not have complained if a foul ball came in my direction.
Sure, Cashman Field is long outdated and in dire need of renovations. But when it comes to summer baseball, there is nothing better than a night in general admission bleachers at the downtown Las Vegas facility.
It's the ideal setting for a father-son outing, first date or night out with friends. Attending one game during April, the first month of the season, is a spring tradition and a gateway to a summer of baseball.
You never know when a lifelong memory will be created.
I remember Kevin McReynolds blasting a home run off the scoreboard in left-center field during that first season, a ball hit so hard it dented one of the scoreboard's panels.
I remember watching Sandy Alomar Jr. play catcher for the Las Vegas Stars. He was the best player I've ever seen in person.
There was also Lindsay Gulin throwing a no-hitter in 2003, a feat that is impressive when you consider runs are scored in Las Vegas' Pacific Coast League like a beer-league softball game.
Thanks to this job, I was in the locker room following Gulin's no-hitter and able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the celebration.
Several notable players have worn the Las Vegas jersey over the years —John Kruk, Ozzie Guillen, Russell Martin and Derrek Lee, to name a few.
But it is more than the future big league stars that makes going to Cashman Field so unique. It's a chance to be a child again — at least for one night.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].