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VIDEO VAULT | Building a new stadium for a new Las Vegas baseball team

Old Cashman Big League.jpg

Last week's Video Vault story looked back at the beginnings of the team we now know as the "Las Vegas 51s," changed from the original "Las Vegas Stars".

The Stars were supposed to bring a glamorous new presence to the Las Vegas sporting scene, so they needed a suitable place to play. News 3 checked in on the preparations for the AAA franchise.

"This is just the start of the job of constructing a multi-million dollar Cashman Field site," said reporter Lynette Taylor on August 29, 1981, with heavy equipment moving in the background.

The future was a minor league baseball for Southern Nevada. It was also the past.

"It's been 10 years since there's been any kind of sports activity here at Cashman Field," reported News-3's Rob McCoy a month later. "Even longer since baseball was played here. But if all goes according to schedule, this time next year, Las Vegas will have its own minor league baseball franchise. And the team will be playing here at the new Cashman Field.

The original Cashman Field dated back to 1948 when it was constructed as "Elks Stadium" and later named after businessman, civic booster and sports enthusiast James "Big Jim" Cashman. Each spring, it became home to Helldorado festivities, but rodeo was the not principal reason for Cashman Field's existence.

"Baseball, which was Big Jim's love," Marv Einerwold told News 3 on March 30, 1983. "He got people to help. A lot of volunteer help and volunteer equipment. And that's the way it was built. I don't think there was a lot of money spent to come out of Jim's pocket itself."

Einerwold knew what he was talking about, as former player for the Class-C "Las Vegas Wranglers" in the 1950s. He said it was place where locals could watch top talent. And not just on Big League Weekend.

"Major League Baseball sent us prospects for the summer to see how they acted away from home, and how they acted around Las Vegas, the environment and everything," he recalled. "So we had some real decent ball clubs. We had some kids signed from out of here."

The 1948 version of Cashman Field consisted of concrete bleachers up and down what today is the slope from the parking lot to the stadium. The facility would sometimes be packed.

"It was good baseball," declared Einerwold. "It wasn't junk. And I think if you could talk to some of the old fans that used to come out and watch, they'd tell you the same thing."

The Wranglers had two incarnations. From 1947 to 1952, then again from 1957 through 1958. So why did they finally fold for good?

"Television came in about that time," remembered Einerwold. "And people were I think just more interested in staying home and maybe watching TV than coming to the park. They just couldn’t get enough people out to make it pay."

There was another attempt at minor league baseball in the 1960s with a team called the "Las Vegas Colts" that utilized some of the former Wranglers. It only pasted a couple of years.

"In the mid-60s, semi-pro baseball gave way to semi-pro football," explained News 3 sports reporter Brian Gladstone in 1983. "A team called the Cowboys lasted about a year before turning the field back over to baseball for UNLV Rebels. The Rebels used the field for its remaining three years of existence."

That's when Cashman Field went dormant for a decade, until its debut as a brand new stadium on April 10, 1983.

"13,878 sun-drenched fans showed up at beautiful Cashman Field for the return of professional baseball to Las Vegas," gushed Gladstone after the opening exhibition game between the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners. "It was a chance for fans to see both the new stadium, and some major league baseball players."

The team that we now know as the Las Vegas 51s is in their final season at Cashman Field before moving to a brand-new facility in the west valley next year.

Cashman Field has also been home to Las Vegas Lights FC of the of the United Soccer League for their inaugural season.

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