Prep all-star baseball games make one-year return to Memorial Park

Photo -

For most of its history, the annual Southern Colorado High School All-Star Games held court at Spurgeon Field in Memorial Park, so Monday's return to its iconic site wasn't viewed as a downgrade after its recent change in venue to Security Service Field.

"To have a Memorial Day event at Memorial Park, it fits," Cheyenne Mountain coach Mark Swope said. "It's been a long-standing tradition here. To come back and see the changes UCCS did with taking out the cages and putting in bullpens, I think it's as nice as it's ever been."

In 2012, the event moved to Security Service Field, giving elite juniors and seniors a chance to play the season's last game at a Triple-A facility in front of family and friends.

But with this week's installation of an HD video board set to make its debut June 5, Security Service Field was unable to play host to the game this year.

"The only window we had to install it was during this road trip," Sky Sox president and general manager Tony Ensor said. "We knew it was going to be close, and I thought we'd be able to do everything with the scoreboard going down, but we have to put some of the parts on the field. We'll take a year off, and next year it'll be back out here, and they'll have a nice, big, beautiful scoreboard to play in front of."

Monday marked the 56th version of the doubleheader, the longest-running high school all-star event in Colorado, dating back to 1962 and featuring such future stars as Goose Gossage, Jeff King, Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley.

The junior game featured players who were selected from a previously held showcase, while the seniors who were either first- or second-team all-league selections earned spots in the second game.

For some, it marked their last games in a competitive environment, while for others, it's a nice reward before heading to the next level.

"It's cool to play together again," said Discovery Canyon catcher Kaven Sook, one of four Thunder seniors who represented the 4A team against all-stars from 3A and 5A. "And it's great to meet up with guys on the other teams one last time before we go our separate ways."

Sook is headed to Hastings (Neb.) College later this summer.

Former major league infielder and manager Art Howe threw out the first pitch prior to the senior game. Howe, the college roommate of Lewis-Palmer assistant baseball coach Dan Adair at Wyoming, suited up for Pittsburgh, Houston and St. Louis in a playing career from 1974-1985 and later managed Houston (1989-93), Oakland (1996-2002) and the New York Mets (2003-04).