was at Security Service Field on Aug. 27 for the final home game of the season for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
It was a festive event as more than 5,800 fans watched the El Paso Chihuahuas defeat the Sky Sox, 5-1, to complete a four-game sweep.
This is one of the worst Sky Sox teams (record wise) in the 27 seasons they have been in Colorado Springs. The loss dropped Colorado Springs to 53-86 with five games remaining.
It was great to catch up with old friends in the press box and in the stands. Freddy Whitacre, the first Sky Sox general manager (who relocated the team from Hawaii following the 1987 season) was on hand and sitting in his regular season down near the Sky Sox’s dugout on the first base side.
Next to Freddy was Rai Henniger. Rai, who many of you know was involved in a horrific fireworks explosion about eight years ago when he worked for the club as its on-field promotions director, was in a jovial mood as is often the case.
Rai went on the air with Sky Sox radio play-by-play announcer Dan Karcher for a couple of innings to talk about the good old days and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.
I spoke with Karcher before the game. He has been the voice of the team since 1990, having called more than 3,000 Sky Sox games. He has seen a lot of talented players pass through Colorado Springs on their way to being productive members of the Colorado Rockies, including names like Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson.
On the air Karcher remains he consummate professional. He is upbeat and optimistic. But it’s been 17 years since he last called a Sky Sox postseason game. It’s been 19 seasons since the Sky Sox last won a playoff game when they claimed the 1995 Pacific Coast League Championship.
The Sky Sox also won the 1992 PCL title when they were affiliated with the Cleveland Indians.
That leads me to my next item of interest.
The Sky Sox have not yet renewed their player development contract with the Rockies. The two have had a PDC since 1993 - the Rockies’ first season at the major league level.
Rockies ownership/leadership has complained a lot over the years about the state of the ball park, playing surface, club house, etc. Sky Sox owner Dave Elmore and his management team have tried to meet the Rockies’ concerns/demands by spending millions of dollars on improvements.
But there is a slight chance the Rockies and Sky Sox won’t renew their PDC for the 2015 season. That’s because the Rockies, like some other major league clubs, are looking into the possibility of buying a Triple-A team so that they have a direct say in the way most everything is run.
The Los Angeles Dodgers recently purchased Oklahoma City and will move their PCL team from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City beginning in 2015.
Does that mean that the Rockies might consider buying Albuquerque? The Rockies have shown interest/threatened to move their PDC to Albuquerque over the years. They’ve even mentioned Las Vegas. Is it possible that either of those scenarios could happen?
It is doubtful that Elmore would sell the Sky Sox to the Rockies. After all, he also owns the stadium, parking lot and concessions. I am not aware of any other owner who has such a sweet monopoly on all of the major revenue aspects of a club.
I, for one, would be happy to see a different major league team merge with the Sky Sox. I don’t believe that the Rockies being here draw fans to the games. Sure, it’s sort of cool to see guys like Charlie Blackman and Helton play here before they head up to Denver to become major league all-stars, but would it really matter if the Cincinnati Reds or Cleveland Indians were affiliated with the Sky Sox?
I think a lot of fans - including Whitacre, Karcher, Sky Sox general manager Tony Ensor, and the team’s long-time official scorer Marty Grantz, would prefer to see a winning team in Colorado Springs over watching young Rockies work their way to Denver.
It’s been too long since the Sky Sox have sniffed the postseason. Something needs to change.
What do you think?
Oh, and by the Way, I am not in favor of the Sky Sox relocating to downtown Colorado Springs. This idea has been thrown for more than a decade and it is a non-story as long as Elmore owns the club.
A new stadium would be nice, but I am not convinced downtown is the best place.