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Franchise history celebrated in new LV Ballpark display

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a mural recently put up at Las Vegas Ballpark celebrating the history of Triple-A baseball in Las Vegas is worth a minimum of 30,000.

Located behind the suites on the third-base side, one of the images in particular, former 51s manager Wally Backman tossing his helmet in the direction of the first-base suites after disagreeing with an umpire, is worth at least 20,000 bonus words.

“We could have put 50 more guys up there; it’s unbelievable how many great players we’ve had,” said Jim Gemma, the team’s longtime media relations director, about the new wall covering divided into six sections by franchise affiliation — two sections for the early years when the San Diego Padres served as the parent club, and one section each encompassing working agreements with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets and Oakland A’s.

Five players (or managers) representing each era are highlighted with Fathead-type cutouts displayed against panoramic sepia-toned backgrounds of Cashman Field and Las Vegas Ballpark. An identical mural will soon be added to the corridor behind the first-base suites.

Aviators president Don Logan said the display — a collaboration between the Aviators and designer Aaron Preciado, photographer Rick Martin and vinyl wrap producer Elliott Nail — was inspired by one at Petco Park in San Diego celebrating the Padres’ history.

“When we built the ballpark it wasn’t something we could do because we were in a big hurry,” Logan said of the mural that went up before the Aviators’ current home stand.

During a tour of the display, Gemma shared anecdotes about many of those pictured. A favorite was one about Eddie Williams, who set team records with four homers and 10 RBS in one game — and also was smooched by Morganna “The Kissing Bandit” during the 1990 PCL All-Star Game at Cashman Field.

“That was better than hitting four home runs and 10 RBIs,” Gemma said.

Around the horn

— Headline this week in the Kansas City Star’s letters to the editor: “The K-State women’s tennis team has no Americans. Tell me college sports aren’t broken.”

As if colleges recruiting a preponderance of international athletes is a new thing.

A quick scan of the archived UNLV women’s media guides shows that from 2009 to 2012 and 2015 to 2019 the Rebels didn’t have a single American serving or volleying. The recruiting tendencies mirror what’s happening in pro tennis — only one American (Jessica Pegula at No. 8) is ranked among the top 10 on the women’s tour, and there’s not a Yank to be found on the men’s list.

— Have you noticed how football teams make a big deal about announcing starting quarterbacks but never their starting offensive guards?

Make that almost never. As reported by former Review-Journal Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken, now covering pro football in Dallas, “Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said if the season began today, Connor McGovern would be starting left guard.”

That’s probably about as close to a starting offensive guard announcement as you’re going to get.

— The NFL has backed off on showing its Thursday night football games via Amazon’s streaming service only, having reportedly worked out an agreement that will allow restaurants and bars to to access those games through DirecTV.

“We’re good in the book, but I think that’s going to be a shock for a lot of people who are not prepared for it and don’t have smart TV,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay told the RJ before the NFL called an audible.

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This is what Sam Fels wrote on Deadspin after a couple was spotted engaging in a sex act in the upper deck during last Sunday’s A’s game at Oakland Coliseum: “Any A’s fan that has been through what the organization has put them through the past season-and-a-half — threats of a move (to Las Vegas), stripping the team down, the new stadium dance — is certainly in need of stress relief.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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