Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Oct. 27, 2021

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Ridgefield Raptors unveiled as new West Coast League baseball team

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:
3 Photos
A view of the under-construction baseball field at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, where the Ridgefield Raptors will play next summer as part of the West Coast Baseball League (Micah Rice/The Columbian)
A view of the under-construction baseball field at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, where the Ridgefield Raptors will play next summer as part of the West Coast Baseball League (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD – The Ridgefield Raptors have taken flight.

Southwest Washington’s newest sports team was unveiled Saturday as part of a larger community event at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

That’s where the Raptors will begin playing next summer as part of the West Coast League, a collegiate wood bat baseball league.

The WCL, which now has 12 teams in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, announced in June it would expand to Ridgefield.

Last month, team officials launched a “name the team” contest on its website. General Manager Gus Farah said more than 500 ideas were submitted.

Many related to two of Ridgefield’s most popular features, the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the high school’s unique mascot, the Spudders.

“There were plenty of potatoes, there were also plenty of birds,” Farah said. “When we looked at the birds and what percentage were raptors, we felt like that represented a good big number.”

Officials also debated whether the team’s name should include Ridgefield or something more general to Clark County or Southwest Washington.

Though the team decided on Ridgefield, it has every intention of being a team for all of Clark County.

“We still know that Southwest Washington, the entire area, is important to us,” Farah said. “We will market to the entire area. We will serve the entire area with community work and our outreach.”

Saturday, officials from the city of Ridgefield and the West Coast League spoke before a crowd of a several hundred near the ballpark, which is still under construction.

West Coast League commissioner Rob Neyer believes Ridgefield will fit in very well with the West Coast League’s other 11 cities, which include Portland and Longview.

“The people at each of those towns believe that their team is a true community asset,” Neyer said. “I think we’re very fortunate that you’re having us.”

After the team’s name and logo were unveiled, a steady line of people bought merchandise and signed up for tickets. Within 30 minutes, the initial batch of hats and T-shirts was in short supply.

“Southwest Washington deserves its own thing, even if it’s a baseball team” Farah said. “It doesn’t always need to be a Portland team they’re rooting for. I think they’re hungry for this.”

The all-weather ballfield uses three varieties of artificial turf. The infield is firmer than the outfield, while the basepaths have a higher concentration of sand to make them play more like dirt.

Once finished, the stadium will accommodate up to 2,500 fans. There will be grass berms down the left-field and right-field lines, as well as behind the right field fence.

Seats behind home plate have already been installed. It’s cozy, with the front row being closer to home plate than the pitcher’s mound.

Farah is eager for those seats to be filled in June, when the roughly 60-game WCL season begins. Farah said about 250 season tickets had been sold prior to Saturday’s unveiling, which only added to his excitement.

“I’ll let you label it, but the initial reception has been overwhelming,” he said. “The amount of merchandise people are looking at and the season tickets they’re asking for right now. I don’t want to overthink myself, but at some point we may end up with a situation where we cut off season tickets. We need to leave single-game tickets available, along with group tickets, nonprofit tickets and sponsor tickets.”

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