Before the proverbial wrecking ball is set to descend upon Stengel Field, there will be baseball for one of the last times in the 65-year venue with perhaps hopes that the facility will see a new heyday.
This weekend’s Babe Ruth Senior action will be represent the last two tournaments showcased at Stengel Field in its current form.
The Glendale City Council voted in favor of demolishing the stadium Oct. 22, while leaving the playing field intact. The stadium includes the two locker rooms, restrooms, showers and offices, a concession stand and equipment storage rooms. Demolition is set to cost the city of Glendale $450,000 and is slated to take place in September.
Before that, though, the San Gabriel Valley Senior Babe Ruth All-Star team and La Crescenta 13-year-old Babe Ruth squad will have the privilege of playing in the stadium’s final two tournaments.
San Gabriel Valley will face Heartwell of Long Beach in a two-day, best-of-three tournament in the Southern California Regional Finals at Stengel Field.
“This is the last hurrah and Babe Ruth baseball at Stengel is always special,” said San Gabriel Valley skipper Phil Torres, who doubles as the head coach at Crescenta Valley High. “If you look at the playing surface, it’s green and it’s in top shape. You can’t say that every summer and we’re happy that our last time in Stengel will include grass.”
Torres’ bunch includes local players from Crescenta Valley High and Glendale Community College, with athletes from throughout the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley also participating.
The opening game is at 7 p.m. on Saturday with the second contest of the series slated for Sunday at 4 p.m. Should a third game be needed, it would be played half an hour after the conclusion of the 4 p.m. match-up.
The winner of the weekend tournament advances to the Pacific Southwest Regional in Modesto and will face the Sacramento-area champion Thursday at 2 p.m.
San Gabriel Valley, which has won four World Series titles, is back after a short hiatus.
“I took the last couple of years off because my son was playing football,” said Torres, whose son Joe will be on the SGV team. “But now that he graduated, I can continue and it’s nice coaching him one last time, even if it’s in a different uniform.”
As for La Crescenta, it commenced Thursday at 7:30 p.m. versus Simi Valley at Stengel. The squad is coached by Juan Pablo Valdez and is hoping for a deep run. The 13-year-old tournament concludes Sunday, with a championship game set for 10 a.m. and an if-necessary game to start after.
“I was just talking today with my infield crew that when we’re done with our game Sunday, we’re going to have to take a picture,” La Crescenta Babe Ruth League president Ralph Tapia said. “That will be the last Babe Ruth tournament at Stengel.”
What Tapia knows that perhaps few others realize is that this weekend’s play will not mark the final action at Stengel Field, contrary to fliers passed out around town saying as much.
Tapia runs a Babe Ruth Summer League that participates at Stengel Field and will continue to play until July 31.
“When that finishes, I intend to make a big to-do,” Tapia said. “I’ve had a long affiliation with this stadium and it will be a sad moment.”
A 15-year-old Glendale Babe Ruth squad, coached by Eric Mahoney, also gets underway this weekend and plays Saturday at noon versus the District 2 champion at Stevenson Field. The 15-year-old tournament concludes on Tuesday.
Should La Crescenta win its tournament, then that squad would advance to the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament in Fowler, Calif. A Glendale win sends the Jewel City entry into the 13-15 tournament in Ukiah, Calif.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.