Welcome to the JuCo World Series
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
May 26, 2003
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A sign outside Sam Suplizio Field reads, "Welcome to the 2003 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series."
For the 10-teams involved in the national championship tournament and the fans from the host city and those who traveled many miles to watch their team play, the sign might as well say, "Welcome to baseball's Xanadu."
The stadium is billed as a triple-A level facility by programs and pamphlets that seem to be everywhere in town. And that is not a lie.
The idea of the field that is hosting the 46th annual JuCo World Series being a Mecca for baseball is not that far fetched.
Suplizio Field's unique setting of a downtown stadium in the middle of the wilderness gives it a charm all of its own. Over the left-field wall, fans look out of the stadium at a majestic view of mountains lining the horizon.
Over the right-field wall, fans see the streetlights and few building tops of businesses that line a downtown street in the picturesque Colorado city.
A quick scan down from the skyline, the outfield walls show the signs of being part of the big leagues, literally.
Except for the solid green wall in dead center field, the boundary fence is made of advertising signs for seemingly every business in Grand Junction.
The field is a pristine green, with the thick grass manicured to perfection, and it feels like the playing surface is always under a pure blue sky, with dots of fluffy white clouds.
"It's a great field," said Meridian Community College shortstop Brandon Rousseve. "It looks like a great place to play, and there are so many people in the stands."
And the number of fans in the stands rises as the sun goes down.
The third game of the World Series that started at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. MDT) on Saturday drew a little over 3,000.
The final game of the opening day had a reported attendance figure of 5,563. The game started at 8:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. MDT). Suplizio Field holds a maximum capacity of around 10,000, and it doesn't look like the baseball fanatics of this Colorado town will mind being packed in like
While the field and the stadium's surroundings are breath taking, the fans sitting area leaves a bit to be desired. The seats are metal bleachers, with only about two feet worth of legroom between each one.
Backrests are at a premium, with only every other bleacher housing the lower-lumbar supporters. But in a setting like Suplizio Field at an event like
the Junior College World Series, this one annoyance doesn't bother anyone.
The fans chatter throughout each contest, and a handful of spectators in every section get up and dance to the songs played between innings every time.
"It's exciting," said MCC catcher Ricky Newman of the crowd's enthusiasm." "It makes you want to play more. You can feed off the crowd, and you really want to perform well for them."
Suplizio Field has the look, the feel and the games of the big leagues, and it is the perfect place to crown a national champion.