The end of an era: Pressbox provided plenty of memories and too many stairs
It sways on windy days.
It bounces when someone runs through the hallway. Two people can’t pass side by side when walking down the hall unless one steps into a booth on either side.
It’s roasting hot on sunny days and cold in the winter.
The windows are best operated by someone standing 6 feet or taller with good upper-body strength, because they have to be raised overhead and “secured” by 11⁄2-inch thick wooden slats anchored into the drywall.
When it’s raining, it provides cover, but nothing on the counters is safe from the water that leaks in.
Then there are the steps — 43 steps up the football bleachers leading to the best view of football games at Stocker Stadium or baseball games at Suplizio Field.
Within the next few days, the pressbox at the Lincoln Park sports complex, named in 2003 for former Grand Junction City Councilman Reford C. Theobold, will be history.
Construction begins in earnest Wednesday to transform the east football stands, first-base baseball stands and the pressbox into a state-of-the-art facility, a project that will cost $8.3 million.
Last week during the JUCO World Series, those of us who call the pressbox home during the eight-day tournament said goodbye in our own way.
With the blessing of Eddie Mort, the stadium supervisor, we scrawled messages of farewell on the walls.
In The Daily Sentinel booth, we drew the bracket right on the wall. We dutifully filled in each game number, game time and kept the bracket and scores all the way through Game 19.
We kept track of home runs vs. sacrifice bunts, the game-by-game attendance and how long each game took.
Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton came by and left “See ya!” and his signature.
Some wrote odes, others simply signed their names.
Theobold, who has been trudging up and down the stairs for 40 years as a public address announcer, reporter or scorekeeper, recalled his first JUCO in 1973 as a reporter for The Daily Sentinel.
“You tend to remember the first,” he said. “I also remember the home run by Kenny Cox. It was the biggest home run I’ve ever seen. It tends to get bigger in memory. The ball was still going up when it went over center field.”
Although everyone who spends any time above the stands is eager to see the new pressbox, you can’t help but wax nostalgic.
David Jahnke, the assistant sports information director at Mesa State and one of two official scorers for JUCO, said he’ll miss the traditional baseball feel of the pressbox.
When the new structure is completed next spring, four HVAC units will heat and cool the press and hospitality levels.
Sentinel sports writer Patrick Bahr said he won’t miss those blaring hot August and September days during football season.
Me? I absolutely will not miss the stairs.
I’ve made countless trips up and down the past quarter century, covering high school and college football and baseball games as well as 26 JUCO tournaments.
It’s a slow, deliberate climb: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. ...”
The new pressbox, thankfully, will be equipped with an elevator.
I can take the heat, the bouncing, shaking and swaying. I can take the close quarters, not being able to see the right-field corner or the north end zone unless I stick my head out the window.
I can no longer take those steps.
The first time you feel the pressbox sway in the wind, you freak out a little bit. The structure is secured on heavy iron beams, and it made it through a few decades without incident, but it’s unnerving.
On May 31, the winds howled, and Mike Nordine told me he heard the pressbox creaking.
“It knows,” we agreed.
It knows its days are numbered.
The pressbox served its purpose well for many years, and perhaps the best message left:
“Adios to a good friend! Good memories.”