Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2018

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

End of an era: For one last game, the 51s will call Cashman Field their home

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Steve Marcus

Baseball fans watch the Las Vegas 51s take on the Reno Aces at Cashman Field Thursday, June 21, 2018. The 51s beat the Aces 5-3.

Lindsay Gulin thought he had made the perfect pitch to record an out.

But at Cashman Field, a place considered so unfriendly to minor league pitchers that organizations frequently kept their prized pitching prospects away from Triple-A Las Vegas, it is a different story. The Pacific Coast League and Cashman Field often resembled beer-league softball games with many hard hit balls and double-digit runs scored each game.

Gulin thought he had induced a ground ball out. But once the ball hit the dirt near home plate, it gained velocity and skirted out of the infield. That sure-thing inning-ending grounder turned into a hard-hit double.

51s to close out play at Cashman

Where: Cashman Field, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North

When: 12:05 p.m. today

Opponent: Sacramento River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants

Tickets: General admission $13

Information: milb.com/las-vegas

“I remember giving up a lot of hits there,” said Gulin, who pitched for the 51s in the early 2000s when they were affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “You make this great pitch and they hit it straight down. It was like concrete near home plate. No matter how much you water it, it was hard as a rock.”

Yet, Gulin had one of the shining moments for a pitcher at Cashman on June 13, 2003, when he did the unthinkable: He pitched a no-hitter.

Cashman closes today for baseball after 36 seasons. When the 51s host Sacramento at 12:05 p.m., it will give us one last ballgame in downtown and surely will spark moments of nostalgia, especially for us locals who can recall moments as kids watching the old Las Vegas Stars.

The 51s, or whatever they will be called in their rebrand, will play next season at a new stadium in Summerlin. The Las Vegas Lights will turn Cashman into a soccer venue.

Gulin, a left-handed finesse pitcher, had the tendency to shake off the signs his catcher put down because he said he “was used to his way and committed to the pitch he wanted to throw.” But on the way to the no-hitter, he and catcher Koyie Hill were on the same page — well, until there was one out in the ninth inning.

“I finally shake him off and the pitch is absolutely drilled — but right at (first baseman) Larry Barnes,” Gulin said.

Barnes caught the liner and easily doubled off the base runner to end the game, a 7-0 victory against Tacoma. Gulin struck out seven batters, walked four and was on the receiving end of some fortune with the game-ending double play.

“I get goosebumps just thinking about it all these years later,” he said.

That’s how many of us feel about Cashman Field.

We remember as kids watching Kevin McReynolds and Sandy Alomar Jr. or chasing after fouls balls that landed in the empty metal bleachers.

As adults, it didn’t get any better than Dollar Beer Night, especially after the sun went down and the weather was seemingly perfect.

We will surely find our way to Summerlin next season to continue making memories with Las Vegas’ first professional sports franchise.

The new $150 million Las Vegas Ballpark will be an upgrade from Cashman, especially with fan and player amenities. (Gulin said the home dugout at Cashman resembled a “bomb shelter.”)

But the beer will taste the same; the baseball will feel similar. That’s the beauty of baseball: You never know when something special will happen, but it usually occurs when you least expect it. For Gulin, that was a Friday night in 2003. In 1992, Tim Worrell, who went on to star as a reliever in 14 seasons in the majors, also pitched a no-hitter for Las Vegas at Cashman.

“I had the time of my life in Las Vegas,” Gulin said. “It was like the big leagues to me.”

For us kids growing up in Las Vegas, Cashman Field felt the same way through each of its 35 years.