MEDFORD, Ore. — The Oregon baseball team finished off a three game sweep of Utah over the weekend. The Ducks have a series with San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday but before they made their way to California, the Ducks stopped off at Harry & David Field in Medford.
The Ducks held a brief practice, did some drills with the kids who came and signed autographs for fans. It lasted about two hours, but more than a thousand people came to the ball park on a Monday for the rare chance to see the Ducks in person in Southern Oregon.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” said head coach George Horton. “What a great turnout, what a great weather day it is.”
“It’s crazy knowing how much people actually care about baseball,” said A.J. Balta, “care about the Ducks. You can tell it’s a statewide thing. There’s no professional baseball here so just being a part of something like this is really special.”
It was the Ducks that approached Medford Rogues’ General Manager Chuck Heeman about setting up this event. Heeman and the Ducks have a strong relationship. Manager Josh Hogan, a former Duck, was with Heeman in Klamath Falls and in Medford and Heeman has had multiple players from Oregon on his teams the past coupe of summers. With the fierce competition for the top college talent among West Coast League teams, this relationship with the Ducks is important for the Rogues.
“There’s just 12 West Coast League teams. Everyone wants Oregon players, they want the Pac-12 schools, the big time schools,” said Heeman. “For us to have that kind of relationship and to hopefully get some of the cream of the crop with their incoming freshmen mainly is very important to us and it’s very important for us to maintain that relationship and this is a big part of that.”