Ems Exhibit Opens in Springfield Historical Museum
Nate Gartrell, EDN
An August exhibit dedicated to the Eugene Emeralds opened at the Springfield Historical Museum Monday afternoon, featuring Ems artifacts from historic teams, past and current players, Sluggo, the Ems mascot, and more than 100 intrigued fans who visited throughout the evening.
“It’s exciting to see all the people here, coming with their kids into the museum,” Museum Director Debra Gruell said. “And that is the reason we try to hold events like this; to bring the community in, because this is their museum.”
The exhibit is scheduled to run through Aug. 27, 2011. Monday’s opening was free to everyone, but admission is generally $2 for adults, free for children.
Ems catcher Jeremy Rodriguez, and relief pitcher Will Scott were on hand, signing autographs and talking with eager fans of all ages. They also took time to examine the exhibit, which covered the Ems’ full history, dating back to their origination in the 1950s.
“We’re just kind of amazed at all the history that’s been with the Eugene Emeralds the past years,” Rodriguez said after he and Scott had looked around. “It’s pretty interesting, and I’m happy to be a part of this.”
Rodriguez, Scott, and their teammates have been making some history of their own this year. Earlier in the season, the Ems broke the Northwest League win streak record, after taking their 14th consecutive victory on July 5 of this year.
“We have a special team,” said Rodriguez, when asked about his team’s accomplishment. “We have team chemistry, and we all get along.”
Included in the Ems’ relics of the past were signed balls and jerseys from various teams over the years, and historical photographs of baseball teams throughout Lane County’s history. There was also a signed image from Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening, which referenced the Ems’, and was dedicated to the “real” Springfield.
Additionally, tributes to the Ems’ past stadiums were exhibited, most notably to South Eugene’s Civic Stadium, the Ems’ home from 1969-2009. In one corner, Civic’s home plate stood on display, and fans were allowed to touch and examine the plate as they pleased.
“This is a lot of fun, I had not seen all of this stuff,” John Arle, an Ems fan of six years, said. “It’s nice that the Ems are hanging onto that. It shows an appreciation for the community.”
Later into the evening, the Ems’ former center fielder and current official scorekeeper, George McPherson, made an appearance. McPherson played with the Ems in four different seasons, including ’74 and ’75, when the team won back-to-back championships.
“There’s a lot of neat memorabilia here, some of which I recognize from when I was here playing,” McPherson said. “It’s fun to see that they’ve kept a lot of the pictures and uniforms. I’m very impressed.”
McPherson, who crossed Civic’s plate several hundred times during his time as an Emerald, said he and his teammates from the championship teams still organize reunions, and have seen each other several times over the years. He said a lot of them still consider the Ems’ old home their favorite baseball venue, himself included.
“There’s no place like Civic Stadium,” McPherson said. “It was the best fan baseball venue I’ve ever been a part of, and it still is. PK Park’s a great park to play in, but when it comes to Civic, you’ll never hear the roar of the crowd or the pounding on the bleachers as we did there.“