When you think of sports in Portland, what do you think of first?
For some, it’s basketball. For others, it’s soccer. The Trail Blazers, Timbers, and Thorns have dominated sports media and culture of the city of Portland for over a decade, and have amassed millions of fans from in and around the Pacific Northwest, and the world.
There is, however, another sport that once permeated the streets and minds of Portlanders and visitors alike: baseball. Those who have been around long enough know a bit about the history of America’s favorite pastime, but for those who don’t, we’ve got you covered:
Portland’s baseball history can be dated all the way back to 1866. The Pioneer Baseball Club of East Portland was founded, and comprised of merchants, doctors, lawyers, and farmers from in and around rural Portland. No professional players were allowed to partake in the club’s practicing or playing.
Then, in February of 1868, various leagues from around the region came together in a meeting to create the Oregon, Washington, and Idaho Territories Association of Baseball Players. This consisted of five clubs - the Portland Pioneers, the Portland Spartans, Highland Baseball Club, Clackamas Club of Oregon City, and the Occidentals of Vancouver, WA.
In 1884, Joe Buchtel, a player-manager for the Pioneers started a new team - the Portland Willamette, who eventually became the Portland Webfeet. The growing demand and adoration for the sport spurred the creation of the Pacific Northwest League, consisting of teams from Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and began to attract eyes from around the country. The Webfeet won the league championship in 1891, and Portland’s baseball scene was in full swing.
Portland’s first real baseball stadium, Vaughn Street Park, was constructed in 1901 on NW 24th street. The stadium would grow to seat 12,000 people and give a home to the newly-created Portland Baseball Club. In 1903, a new Portland team, the Browns, takes precedence in the city and is purchased by Portland outfielder Walter McCredie and his uncle William McCredie. They named the team the Beavers, after the state animal, and in joining the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, became a Class A (now Triple-A) team.
Through the 1950s, the Portland Beavers experienced their fair share of wins and losses, record-breaking, and management changes. In 1956, the Beavers left Vaughn stadium and relocated to the 25,000-seat stadium, originally the Multnomah stadium, but eventually renamed the Civic stadium in southwest Portland.
In the early 1970s, attendance at Beaver baseball games dropped. Fewer than 92,000 fans were in attendance for the entirety of the 1972 season. It was then that the Beavers left Portland for Spokane, replaced for five years by the Portland Mavericks, who won four division titles in their five-year occupancy.
In 2000, the Albuquerque Dukes were relocated to Portland, once again naming themselves the Beavers. As part of the agreement, the Civic stadium was renovated to become PGE park. In 2007, owner Merrit Paulson announced a name change. So as to not confuse the team with the OSU Beavers, who had just won the national championship title, Paulson proposed adding “Portland” in front of the team name.
A rebrand took place and in 2008 the team announced their new colors and designs. Elements of the team’s new logo and marks paid homage to the previous iterations of the Beavers in Portland’s past, including a “Lucky Beavers” mark on their jersey’s sleeve in reference to a slogan from the 50s.
The Portland Beavers played valiantly up until a $31 million dollar grant was approved by the city for renovations to PGE park that would turn it into an MLS stadium. Plans to relocate the Portland Beavers fell through and for baseball fans, left behind only the fond memories of games at what was PGE park.
Today, a handful of Portlanders hold fast their memories of sitting in the stands at PGE Park - the smell of fresh popcorn and hotdogs combined with freshly cut grass and a booming organ over the loudspeaker welcoming the next player at-bat. If you were lucky enough, you may have even caught a pop-fly that went awry.
Here or not, Portlanders still have a passion for baseball in Portland - a passion captured in our newest collection: The Portland Roses collection.
Now available online and in-store.