Goodbye, Packard Stadium

With this week ending in Valentine’s Day, we’d like to express our love for Packard Stadium. This season was the last that ASU Baseball will play at Packard. Next season, we’ll say hello to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the Oakland Athletics play spring training games. So long, Packard.

For the past 40 years, ASU Baseball and, importantly, fans, called Packard their home. Packard saw a huge average attendance this past year, with 2,809 fans packing the stadium. It was a great run for the old vine-covered stadium that touches Rural Road and Rio Salado Parkway. Family, history and sports mix to create fond memories.

We all have memories of this old place, and we will miss it dearly.

One remembers when she was 17, her father pulled her out of school and took her to a game at Packard.

She was never a huge fan of baseball, but she will never forget sitting out there on the grass next to her daddy, just months before she was set to graduate high school and go on to college here at ASU.

Another remembers the grassy knolls along the first and third-baselines at Packard Stadium, spending many weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons watching the Sun Devil baseball team while younger brothers ran about or played catch on one of those berms.

There’s something extremely special and delightfully meta about being able to play baseball while watching it. We remember the bright sunlight mixing with the rising cheers from the fans. There’s not only the fans, but the players that we have inextricably linked to the setting of Packard Stadium.

Last season, a ballplayer by the name of Mark Appel rolled into Tempe for a
Fridaynight matchup for the ages against ASU ace Trevor Williams. Appel struck out 13 in his 7 2-3 innings. Although ASU didn’t pick up the win, it was magical watching two future MLB stars duke it out at historic Packard Stadium.

Not only did these players make it, but it reminded us of the family aspect of baseball. The Torrez family just sent their third – Emilio – to join former infielders Raoul and Riccio.

They are thefifthset of brothers to become Sun Devils. In 2010, Packard was the place where ASU clinched a berth at Super Regionals for their last appearance in Omaha at the College World Series. Hopefully, they’ll end their time at Packard with another superb Super Regional performance. As baseball fans mourn the end of Packard, we can’t help but remember other stadiums that our families frequented and we remember on TV.

Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. Tiger Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins.

These are all stadiums of the past, felled with a wrecking ball. We miss them, sure, but we rejoice in the new places with new memories that we create with the fresh crack of a bat and the sock of a third out.

Unfortunately, ASU baseball will be playing 2.5 miles away from campus. For those of us who live here, it’s a tragedy that we can’t go “root root root for the home team” at a place that we actually call our home.

With this new stadium, we will lose a great location to what will probably, knowing ASU, become a parking lot. ASU decided that it can make more money in a new entertainment complex instead of old Packard.

This Valentine’s Day, we remember you, Packard Stadium. We love you and will miss you dearly.

 

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Correction: An earlier version of this editorial misidentified the team that played in Shea Stadium. It has been corrected.