It’s a proven fact that summer and baseball go hand in hand, and from June until mid-August, Portland is home to one of the best ballpark experiences in the country. In just three short seasons, the Portland Pickles have gone from charter members of the now-defunct Great West League to a powerhouse club in a competitive West Coast League. The WCL has produced dozens of major leaguers throughout the years, including current Yankees ace James Paxton, and Mariners outfielder and fan favorite Mitch Haniger.
If you weren’t among the 64,000 fans to make it out to Walker Stadium in Lents Park last summer during the Pickles’ inaugural season in the WCL, you missed out on witnessing the team go 37 and 17 on their way to claiming the best record in the league. Despite their commanding regular-season form, the team was ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Corvallis Knights. Fortunately, the Pickles are set to return seven pitchers from last year’s lights-out roster, along with a slew of new talent pulled from D1 college teams around the nation, giving them yet another legitimate shot at a title run.
Talent and winning on the field is important, but a huge part of what makes Portland’s collegiate wood bat team shine comes from the off-field entertainment. The Pickles have earned their reputation by providing fans with a complete gameday experience, the centerpiece being Dillon the Pickle, the towering mascot and loveable goofball at the heart of all the antics the team’s marketing department comes up with.
The 2019 season gets underway on Tuesday, June 4, with a home opener against the Port Angeles Lefties and a post-game fireworks display. The following night, the Pickles team up with Basic Rights Oregon to celebrate Portland Pride at the Walk. From there, it’s going to be a jam-packed summer, with promotional nights, live entertainment, and giveaways planned for every homestand.
Among the can’t-miss games for this season are “Mazatlan Venados Baseball Night” (Sat June 15), celebrating the Pickles’ sister city team, the Venados de Mazatlán of the Mexican Pacific League; “Portland Baseball History Night” (Sun June 16) kicks off early in the afternoon with the Pioneer Baseball Club of Portland taking on the Clackamas Nine in a game of vintage baseball following rules circa 1861; “DB Cooper Night” (Sun June 23), which asks fans to come forward with information and help Dillon close the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history; “Tattoo Tuesday” (Tues July 16) will offer real free tattoos for fans 21 and up; and you’ll want to arrive extra early on Friday, July 26 if you’re looking to get your hands on a Dillon “Raise the Chair” Bobblehead.
Fourth of July at Walker Stadium promises to be extra special this year, with the Pickles hosting the Corvallis Knights in the team’s most elaborate promotional night to date. “Future Baseball Night” will see both teams playing by a new set of rules obtained by Dillon during an off-season trip to the year 2050. Batters will be able to flip the direction they run during odd innings, a limited number of yellow bonus balls will increase the value of each pitch and hit, both teams will field eight defenders that can be placed wherever the manager chooses, and if the game is tied after seven innings, the contest will be decided by a home-run derby. Traditionalists need not worry—while the game itself is guaranteed to buck the rules of America’s pastime in nearly every way, the night will still close out with a customary fireworks display.
New for the 2019 season, the “Rockin’ the Walk” concert series invites fans out to the park early every Friday evening for a pregame concert featuring live music from a number of regional acts, including Smokey Brights, No Kind of Rider, Maurice and the Stiff Sisters, Small Million, Autonomics, and more. Picklefest will also return on Saturday, July 13, bringing attendees a full evening of live music, a limited edition mug to fill with your choice of craft beers, as well as a berm ticket for the night game against the San Francisco Seals.
Tickets for the 2019 season are already on sale, with many of these highlighted games selling fast. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a curious casual looking for a new way to enjoy summer evenings, you’re going to want to plan your trip to the Walk sooner rather than later.
Stay tuned to the Mercury and our Things to Do Calendar for Pickles news and updates throughout the season!