Monday, Sept. 3, 2018 | 4:46 p.m.
It started 36 years ago with the Las Vegas Stars Triple-A baseball team, and ended Monday afternoon with a booming home run off the bat of 51s first baseman Peter Alonso.
The conclusion to the last 51s game in the history of Cashman Field was like the script from a Disney movie. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, with a man on third base, Alonso stepped to the plate and crushed the last pitch that will ever be thrown at the downtown ballpark over the left field wall.
Alonso rounded the bases to the roar of the crowd, and as he stepped on home plate to give Las Vegas a 4-3 win, his teammates doused him in red Gatorade and mobbed him in celebration.
“After I hit it I knew it was gone and I was like ‘wow this is it,’” Alonso said. “It was a really cool feeling because there was awesome engagement from the crowd today, especially with it being the last game.
“There have been a ton of games here, a ton of baseball and a ton of history with great players here, so to send Cashman off I feel honored.”
Not only was Monday’s contest the final baseball game at Cashman Field, it was the last game in 51s history, as the team will be changing names and major league affiliations when they move to the new Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin next season. They were affiliated with the San Diego Padres in 1983 when the franchise launched and also were the top minor league team for the Dodgers, Blue Jays and lastly Mets for the past six years.
The scene at Cashman Field was nearly as perfect as the game’s ending. Temperatures soared close to 100 degrees, but fans seeked refuge in the shade behind home plate and under the trees in the outfield. Fans sang along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” one final time, and the obnoxiously-loud screams from fan-favorite beer vendor “Bruce the Beer Guy” echoed throughout the stadium.
Season ticket holder Jan Stevens watched the final game at Cashman Field from her strategically-placed seat in row O of section 13, directly beneath the water misters. Stevens, 74, has been attending baseball games at Cashman Field since the 1980s and has held season tickets since she retired six years ago.
“I’m a sports fans,” Stevens said. “I’m just a sports nut. I go to everything. If you’re at a basketball game, or a football game I’m there.”
One section over and a few rows closer sat Leonard Wagner — a 17-year season ticket holder.
Wagner said his favorite memories of Cashman Field will be, “just the excitement of being here at the ballpark. I love baseball. My four sons played little league and I’ve always just loved the game.”
Wagner has become such a staple at the stadium most vendors and security recognize him. Some even call him dad. He’s eaten so many 51s helmets full of nachos that he can’t keep them all at home so his granddaughter brings them to her daycare center to give to the kids.
The camaraderie between the season ticket holders will be the lasting memory of the ballpark for Stevens.
“My favorite part would probably just be all the friends I have. I know everybody here,” Stevens said, laughing. “I don’t have one particular moment. It’s all great because I have so many friends here.”
The attendance for Monday’s game was 5,353, pushing the total number of fans in the ballpark over the last 36 years to more than 12 million.
Following Alonso’s blast most of the fans filed onto the field and ran the bases one final time. Children simulated head-first slides for their parents to snap a photo at home plate, laying in the dirt, which was still soaked from Alonzo’s Gatorade bath. Some gathered infield dirt in glass bottles to save as a momento before it’s all gone in favor of soccer turf.
“I’m going to remember playing here in the desert for the rest of my life,” said Alonso, who is one of the top minor-league prospects for the Mets. “It’s a part of my journey so playing in Vegas is a part of me now. I’ve had some great memories and this is just another great one. That was probably the highest note I could end a season on other than winning the World Series.”