The old baseball field at Bill Gray Stadium in Roseburg will have a new look soon, one that goes beyond a new artificial surface.
Umpqua Post 16, the American Legion post in charge of the Legion baseball program in Douglas County, agreed to sell the naming rights to Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field and change the stadium’s name to Bill Gray Stadium at One Champion Carwash Field, Legion commissioner Jeff Admire said.
Admire said both parties initially agreed on a six-year contract for $25,000 per year, and the contract goes into effect after the field’s artificial surface has been installed.
The sponsorship, commissioner Tom Donagan said, will put the company’s logo behind home plate in front of the stadium’s covered grandstand.
The sponsorship from the Roseburg-based business, located on Northeast Garden Valley Boulevard and owned by Dale Farmer, represents the biggest chunk of sponsorship money the longtime local American Legion baseball program has put into place for years to come. It also rebrands a baseball field that has been known as Legion Field for much of its existence.
“It was something that’s been talked about in the past between the finance committee and myself,” Admire said. “Basically, we were talking about what we could do now to make this project happen.”
Preparatory work for the new surface at the stadium, which is owned by the City of Roseburg, began on Friday. Admire said the total cost for the project is estimated at $715,000, but money raised through grants and donations exceed $800,000 for incidentals during construction.
Other sponsorships came from Bigfoot Beverage and DR Johnson Lumber, and their business names will be placed above the stadium’s recently remodeled dugouts.
Smaller sponsorship revenue will come from business names on the baseball field’s on-deck circles, and the annual cost of outfield wall displays was raised from it’s previous annual price tag of $150.
In all, Admire said annual sponsorship money will reach an estimated $41,000 per year which, if saved, would give the Legion cash in hand to replace the field once it’s reached or exceeded its estimated 10- to 12-year lifespan.
“This will give us a chance to stack up money to buy new carpet,” Donagan said. “But with that many teams playing on it, it might not last as long as we’d want it to.”
The change to the name of the field goes into effect upon completion of the turf installation, which Umpqua Community College Athletic Director Craig Jackson said should be in time for the fall baseball season at UCC.
Umpqua, along with the baseball programs at Roseburg High School and Umpqua Valley Christian, will be the field’s primary users in the springtime. The three local Legion teams — Dr. Stewart’s, Pepsi and Dr. Randol’s — will use it during the summer months.
Jackson, who has coordinated with the Legion commission on the baseball field’s turf project, said the new field will make field maintenance easier during the spring rainy season and create a selling point for UCC to draw the eight-team NWAC conference tournament, which has been played at Lower Columbia College each year since 2005.
That tournament, plus possible returns of American Legion state and regional tournaments and the millions of dollars in potential revenue those could bring, have been selling points to UCC and city officials. But finances for the field had to be in order before any of those possibilities were feasible.
That’s why the naming rights to the field were sold.
“We want to have cash in hand ... when this field has to be replaced,” Admire said.
“That was big for us and for the city, because in 10 to 15 years if nobody is helping out and we can’t afford to replace this field, you’re stuck with a facility that’s useless.”
CADE KING HAS BEEN A 3-YEAR STARTER FOR THE GRANTS PASS NUGGETS, AND WAS THE ACE OF THE PITCHING STAFF THIS SEASON, AS WELL AS HELPING LEAD THE TEAM AT THE PLATE OF WHICH HE BLASTED A GRAND SLAM AT KLAMATH FALLS TO BEGIN LEAGUE PLAY.
SADLY, THE NUGGETS GOT WORD MONDAY THAT KING WILL BE LOST FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON AS HE IS SCHEDULED TO HAVE RIGHT SHOULDER SURGERY EARLY NEXT WEEK (July 8th) TO REPAIR A TORN LABRUM.
KING IS A RECENT GRANTS PASS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE WHO LED THE CAVEMEN TO 5-WINS ON THE MOUND THIS PAST SPRING, AND HAD 3-STARTS ON THE BUMP IN JUNE WINNING ONE GAME WITH A 3.34 ERA IN 5 TOTAL APPEARANCES.
HE KNOCKED IN 15 RUNS HITTING .216 AT THE PLATE, TOO.
THE NUGGETS TEAMMATES, PROGRAM, COACHES, FANS, SPONSORS, AND FRIENDS WISH HIM THE BEST RECOVERY AND REHAB AND LOOK TO SEE HIM WITH A STRONG RETURN TO THE DIAMOND AS TIME PERMITS.
SEE INTERVIEW WITH GPHS GRAD AFTER HOME SPLIT WITH ROSEBURG JUNE 25th
Valenzuela-Reece taking over as North Valley's new baseball coach
By Ben Maki of the Daily Courier
There will be a familiar name in the dugout next season for the North Valley High School baseball team.
Clay Valenzuela-Reece was named the 15th head coach of the Knights on Monday.
He is the son of Bruce Reece, No. 2 on the program's list of wins and coach of the 1985 state championship team.
Valenzuela-Reece takes over a program that has won 10 games in the last three seasons and went 2-21 this year.
"My dream was always to be a head coach of a baseball program at the highest level possible," Valenzuela-Reece said. "This is my first head coaching job ever. I'm pretty excited about it. My dad was out at North Valley in the 80s and 90s.
"I have a lot of pride in that program knowing that's his background as a former Knight. I went full-bore after it, to get the chance to get that successful program going again."
Valenzuela-Reece has been successful in baseball everywhere he has gone.
He was a member of the 2012 Class 6A state championship team at Oregon City.
He then moved on to Tacoma (Washington) Community College, where he was All-Northwest Athletic Conference for two years.
He then won a Mid-South Conference title at Campbellsville (Kentucky) University as a junior, and the Tigers reached the championship game of the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series that season.
He wrapped up his playing career that summer playing for the Medford Rogues, which won the Great West League crown that year.
Among his first acts as coach was to set up a summer schedule. He said he plans to play 10-15 games this summer.
"We're just trying to get on the field as much as we can," Valenzuela-Reece said. "They havent had a summer ball program there in a long time.
"With summer ball, there's no distractions. Just get better and continue to compete."
The rookie coach has already started building his staff by hiring his father.
"He's not going to be around so much in the offseason, but once in spring comes, he'll be hands-on," Valenzuela-Reece said. "He has a lot of love for the program and a lot of pride in North Valley.
"He wants to bring that back and he knows how to do it. It's going to be awesome to have him on staff. He has a lot of knowledge and he's a great mentor for me."
In addition to winning the state title in 1985, he also coached the Knights to four Skyline Conference titles in seven years before moving on to Madras, where he mentored future Major Leaguer Jacoby Ellsbury.
"It's a pretty exciting time," Reece said. "He got that job and asked if I would be an assistant. I told him I'll do it for one year. Hopefully, he will succeed and they'll let him keep doing it."
Now, the elder Reece will work with both of his sons this next school year. He is the athletic director at Illinois Valley High School, where Jonathan Valenzuela-Reece is the head girls basketball coach.
"It's great; it's a lot of fun," Reece said. "At home, we don't spend a whole lot of time talking about coaching, but in the car, we're going to have to spend more time now."
Reece, who was the girls golf coach at IV the last two years, will have to find a replacement for the next season.
Clay Valenzuela-Reece said he is in the process of finding a job as a special education teacher in the area.
Former coach Kelsey Anchors announced before the start of this last season she would resign as coach to move back to Washington for family reasons. She was the first female head baseball coach in state history and coached for two seasons.
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SEE INTERVIEW WITH NUGGETS CATCHER AFTER SPLIT AT MEDFORD JUNE 17th
THE RACE AIN'T WON ON FIRST LAP AS GP SUFFERS BLOW OUT IN SEASON OPENER
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By Jay Byrd Reese--
(Grants Pass, OR) – When the 2019 American Legion Baseball ‘Area-4’ league begins play June 1st, there will be four of the six teams with new Manager-Head Coaches.
Last week, the Grants Pass Nuggets were the last of the four to name a new Manager to run its ‘AAA’ baseball program this summer.
He is Jeff Weiss.
The 31-year old former Nugget player and assistant coach takes over the program which has finished 2nd-Place the past two seasons, and has played for the Oregon State Championship twice since 2013.
Weiss succeeds longtime coach and Nuggets Hall of Famer Mike Reese, who recently retired from Legion services after 35 years in the program. Reese was the only coach in history to lead the Nuggets to three state Championship appearances (1988, 2013, 2016).
“I have been blessed to be able to coach under and alongside those I consider some of the best coaches in Oregon. I am a student of the game and plan on utilizing pieces from my previous coaches I’ve had the opportunity to study under as well as my own experiences.”
Weiss, a 2005 Crater HS graduate, has ties to Grants Pass since playing for the Nuggets himself in 2005, and becoming a coach.
He also coached under the leadership of Brian Diatte & Reese at North Valley HS in 2008, and at Grants Pass HS for
Most recently Weiss assisted Jay Campbell helping lead Crater to the 2018 ‘OSAA Class 6A’ State Title.
The former Comet starred at Linn-Benton Community College playing in the NWAAC in 2006-07.
Weiss plans to name a coaching Staff in the coming weeks and is excited to battle for a League Championship in his first summer.
“It’s my opinion that we have great coaches and players that have fed the Nuggets program. Hidden Valley, Grants Pass, Crater and surrounding area schools have and will continue to produce athletes that provide great opportunities for our program. I am looking forward to this journey.”
Grants Pass opens League play on Monday, June 17th at Medford facing the State Champion Mustangs at Harry & David Field at 6pm.
Mike Reese who has served more years as Head Coach-Manager of the Grants Pass Nuggets American Legion baseball program than any other coach in the history of the program announced his retirement November 19, 2018.
Reese, is the winningest baseball coach ever in Josephine County among all area high school, Legion and Independent teams.
The 1977 Grants Pass graduate led the GP legion 'AAA' team to three Oregon State Runnerup finishes (1988, 2013, 2016) during his 5 stints as Manager since the mid 1980's.
"I've been very fortunate to have coached with some of the best coaches in the game period, and to coach against the best. And, I've been lucky to teach and mentor some great players along the way"
Reese who has over 900 career wins combined as a Legion and High School Head Coach adds, "I've dedicated my entire life to baseball in this town, and it's time for somebody else to take the lead."
The Legion Hall of Famer plans to serve as an Assistant Coach next spring on Mark Vidlak's staff at Hidden Valley High School (4A-Skyline Conf.).
Reese most recently led the Nuggets to a second-place (10-10/26-19) finish in 'Area-4' League play in 2018, but were eliminated in the Super Regional playoffs.
He was a member of the 1977 GPHS team that finished OSAA State runner-up. At age 14 he caught his first 'AAA' legion game for the then nicknamed GP Mock Ford Broncos team.
Reese played collegiately in San Diego, and played under contract in Perth, Australia. In addition, he played for the Grants Pass Thunderbirds, twice a Regional Semi-Pro Champion.
He has coached at North Valley, Hidden Valley, and also at Grants Pass High School.
"I'm grateful to the Legion Board of Directors over the years, and to all the sponsors who supported our efforts along the way."