Baseball time is here once more
Baseball time is here once more Go watch our Giants score again Go hit the ball on the field Look at those Giants and the bases they steal We hope the pennant is in sight again Giants try your best again Go, go Giants and win today We are with you giants all the way. (Lyrics from a souvenir recording of Art Mineo Combo, song written by Joe Jordan}.
Does anyone remember that little melody? It was “Go Giants Go,” introduced by Joe Jordan in 1963. It was available at 45 RPM, and was part of the merchandise sold at the Tacoma Giants souvenir shop in Cheney Stadium. He couldn’t have been the only kid in T-town who embezzled his father from his weekly allowance. It was only four bits (50 cents) and I didn’t even have to clean our basement. What a deal!
“Go Giants Go” was performed one day during the intermission of a twin-bill (double day-night headline). Joe Jordan was joined by the 80-member Lincoln High School band, the school’s 50-member men’s choir, and the Tacoma Giants Booster Club led by baritone Jack Sonntag. And other times it sounded through the stadium’s public address system, drowning out the home run from the foghorn, the ringing of cowbells, and the hum of the organ in the stands. To this day, I have very much in my possession, “Go Giants Go” in my personal hall of fame and keepsake box. I have even duplicated it on a CD.
The following story is about my love for baseball when I was young and the passion I have for the sport today. My hometown is in Tacoma, Washington. This story takes place there back in the 60s.
I was only seven years old when the San Francisco Giants franchised their farm club to Tacoma’s beautiful Cheney Stadium in 1960. Cheney Stadium was built and completed by local logger Ben Cheney. Who would have imagined that the next six years would be the most impressionable of my life? I often wondered what meant more to me during the hot summer days of the early to mid-60s: watching my older brothers win a tie during the days of the Kiwanis Soap Box Derby or watching the hectic Tacoma Giants finale. pitcher Juan Marichal on the mound and excellence on the field from shortstop Gil Garrido, my hero then, No. 17. If he was near Bantz Boulevard, he had the best of both worlds. Let’s not forget the Cheney Studs playing hard on nearby Heidelberg course. I always chose the land of the “Giants”.
With these memories thrown so intricately back to yesteryear, I recall the sports entertainment battle where Tightwad Hill made its barrier between the Soap Box Derby race track and Cheney Stadium. I can almost feel the wild yellow-flowered Scottish broom as it puffed up the hill from the soapbox court to the high fence in left field of Cheney Stadium. I equipped myself with binoculars as I slyly turned away from my parents’ watchful gaze. I can even feel my mother’s pinch on my right arm as it disappears from the dusty derby hill. Wow, he had a hint of obedience! I didn’t care.I endured all the pain. It was worth it.
But it was all worth it back then, because wherever I appeared I wore my old black baseball cap with the orange capital “T” representing the Tacoma Giants. I was simply a Giants fan and would rather hear the crack of a Louisville slugger than the thud of the boards at the starting line and the wave of the checkered flag at the derby finish line.
If people thought I was a Giants fan, then I should introduce them to my dad. It was almost “like father, like son” with us and the Giants. After all, Dad was the one who took us to the first game at Cheney Stadium forty-seven years ago. I remember the many nights my father worked in his garage. He’d be listening to his tube radio late at night, tuned to “Mr. Voice of the Giants,” Don Hill. “The Giants win, the Giants win! How about that, Giants fans?” Hill acquitted. Then Hill would close with “see you later and be a good sports fan.”
Another winning game was over. I couldn’t get enough. My brothers couldn’t get enough. And most of all, my father couldn’t get enough of it. However, my mom had enough. She was too busy putting old newspapers on the kitchen floor. Dad would run in from the garage and trace grease and dirt all over his clean floor, only to repeat the matching game countless times for us kids. I can still see him smiling, his lips serving him gallantly. It almost sounded like Don Hill.
My dad was one of us when it came to the Tacoma Giants. He would be very excited. I wonder if my mother was happy with the Giants. I don’t think any love was lost. From April to September, I always had the pile of old newspapers in the hallway near the kitchen. Specifically for the Tacoma Giants, Don Hill, and my dad. It took a lot of newspapers to unfold that unwanted rug. Newspapers would disappear after September, only to return the following spring.
Dad tried his best to get Mom interested in the Giants, but it took us all to cheer her on. Especially when it came to the double headlines on Mother’s Day Sunday. That was a nine-inning game plus a seven-inning game after the game. He was in favor of the 16 delicious fun tickets. If I did it my way, there would always be extra tickets. I begged and begged for more baseball until there were holes in the knees of my jeans.
But now it’s been more than 47 years and that April excitement keeps coming back every spring. Cheney Stadium has seen seven professional baseball teams hit its walls and sometimes break the hearts of its fans. And we must not forget the days when Cheney Stadium was home to the land of the Giants, Cubs, Twins, Yankees, Tugboats and Tigers. And now, for the past twelve years, they are proud to be the Tacoma Rainiers, the agricultural club of the Seattle Mariners.
I’m not looking over the Scottish broom at Tightwad Hill these days, and the Soap Box Derby is long gone. The Tacoma Giants are gone too. But the memories are still between Cheney Stadium and its Tacoma Rainiers today. Now I have discovered boxes and stands. As long as I and a few thousand others are fans, Tacoma baseball and Ben Cheney Stadium will never die.
I sincerely hope that future generations will always catch this spirit of fun and hold on to these memories as I did and always will. I’ll see you all in the Cheney Stadium seats when I’m 77 because that 7-year-old will surely be there tomorrow.
For all you die-hard Tacoma Giant fans of yesteryear, a great book to read is titled, Six Seasons: A History of the Tacoma Giants 1960-1965, written by Jacob Jordan. This book covers it all. I highly recommend it. It is available on the Internet.
If Joe Jordan were alive today, he would have to review his song, “Go Giants Go.” His remake would have to be “Go, Rainiers Go – and win today. We are with you Rainiers all the time.”