What will I remember about Ray Winder Field?
I will remember sitting in the stands with my grandfather as he taught me to keep score, a true lost art. I will remember witnessing Hookslide Bradshaw's signals to the players and slide into the popcorn box, the craziest thing I had ever seen a fan do at a sporting event. I will remember running around in the Optimist Dugout section on nights my Rosedale Optimist baseball teams made an outing. I will remember playing cupball in the parking lot. I will remember all the photos I cut out of the newspaper to get signed by the players, and even Bill Valentine.
I will remember getting out of school to go see the St. Louis Cardinals play an exhibition game. I will remember the extremely used Shreveport Captains hat I got from a friend who was a bat boy. I will remember all the free Pepsis I got from my friends who worked at the concession stand (that was more than 20 years ago so the statute of limitations is up). I will remember Mike Harris, Terry Pendleton, and Mark Salas stopping by on their way to the dugout before the games and taking a drink from those Pepsis. I will remember the "Mike Harris #1" sign I displayed on the fence for most of a season and the bat he gave me as a thank you. I will remember the foul ball that I thought must have broken my wrist (it didn't).
I will remember when Jim Elder gave me his card with the instructions to use it at the gate any time I wanted in free. I will remember the time I went to IHOP after a game and ran into Captain Dynamite, and then proceeded to tell him that my friends and I were trying to get in the business with a similar act called the Firecracker Brothers. I will remember having a Busch Light or two in the bleachers. I will remember all those bombs sent over the Screen Monster and imagining where they were landing. I will remember the advice a friend gave to Erick Aybar. I will remember standing in the outfield and getting a true sense of what it was like to be out there with the noise from the traffic and the gravel, plus the unique perspective of the stands. I will remember sitting in the stands with Jered Weaver as he complained about the Arkansas heat.
Farewell, Ray Winder Field. We will miss you. But we look forward to all the new memories at Dickey-Stephens Park and the view of the skyline over the outfield fence.