Venable saddened by ballpark fire in Eugene
Padres outfielder played at historic Civic Stadium to begin pro career
SAN DIEGO -- Padres outfielder Will Venable arrived at Petco Park on Tuesday unaware that historic Civic Stadium in Eugene, Ore., where he played in summer 2005, was destroyed by a fire on Monday.
"I didn't know, Venable said. "I'm not on social media and that was so long ago, I don't think anyone I know knows about that place."
Civic Stadium was the previous home to the Eugene Emeralds, who were an affiliate of the Padres organization from 2001-14.
Before moving to PK Park in 2010, the Emeralds -- of the short-season Northwest League -- played their homes games at the site from 2001-09.
The ballpark opened in 1938.
Venable's reaction, like many others who cherished the stadium, was shock and sadness.
Before the Padres faced the Mariners on Tuesday, Venable reflected on his memories of the wood-framed arena in Eugene.
"Well, it's really sad," the 32-year-old, in his seventh season, said. "I was there for just a couple months, but it's a place that means a lot to me as far as my baseball career. It was a special time that I spent playing and had a lot of good times playing in that ballpark. I know it was an older place before I got there, and I'm sad to hear that it no longer exists."
Venable said his memories of Civic Stadium derive from his time spent at the ballpark. He remembers specific games, certain plays and having a sandwich brought to him by the bat boys from his favorite local place in Eugene.
Venable was drafted in the seventh round in 2005, played in the Arizona League for two weeks before he headed for Eugene.
"At that point in your career, your first Minor League season, you are seeing a lot of things in baseball for the first time, and there were a lot of those types of situations," Venable said. "For me, I just remember the downtime before the games. There were things we just did every day, so it's not just memories about the actual building."
Venable also admitted that as he was just starting out his career, he never truly grasped the significance of the stadium.
"When you get there you are just so busy catching up on how to fit in and learn the professional game," he said. "But the history of the stadium isn't really something you are thinking about, so it's interesting."
Although the structure of Civic Stadium no longer remains, Venable said the town of Eugene will always be special to him as the place his professional career began.
"I just remember the people being really nice." Venable said. "Everyone was on a bike and super friendly. It was just a nice place to be in, a very cool place to be in your first time in the [Minor Leagues]."