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Living In The Minors: Las Vegas 51s

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Matt Reynolds
Steve Spatafore

Las Vegas 51s is enjoying a great start to its season thanks in part to shortstop Matt Reynolds.

The Las Vegas 51s have had another great start to the season, breaking their record for consecutive wins at 14.

They sit atop their division in the Pacific Coast League, and are currently in the midst of a home stand against Colorado Springs.

The president and COO of the team, Don Logan, said he got into baseball after watching the San Francisco Giants with his family.

He has seen the team move from being an affiliate of the San Diego Padres and being called the Las Vegas Stars to being an affiliate of the New York Mets and becoming the Las Vegas 51s.

He believes the team provides an alternative to the casinos for locals.

“One of the things we are is we are normal entertainment option for people that live here,” Logan told KNPR's State of Nevada.

While the list of professional sports franchises that have burned bright then gone under in Las Vegas is a long one, Logan strongly believes the area is a great market for minor league baseball.

“The community-first aspect was, probably more than anything, what has allowed us to endure,” Logan said.

He said the franchise works to be part of the community. He also thinks that baseball itself is a fun game for the whole family.

Logan does acknowledge the state of Cashman Field, where the 51s play, is a problem needing a solution. When it first opened in 1983, it was one of the best stadiums in the league. 

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Now, it is one of the oldest.

Logan said Cashman Field is showing its age, from the number of bathrooms and concession stands available, to the way the seats are angled. He also said the facility's inadequacy has hurt the team’s ability to keep a parent team because the field also doesn’t have some of the basic training facilities needed for player development, which is ultimately what the major league teams are concerned about.

“I think the best thing for us is to get a new stadium somewhere else in the valley,” Logan said “We’re actively pursuing a new stadium up in Summerlin. Hopefully in the not too distant future the plan comes together and we can start building it.”

Manager Wally Backman agrees that a new stadium is desperately needed. He said the team is unable to develop the players the way they need to with the current facilities.

Besides the state of Cashman, Backman told KNPR’s State of Nevada one of his biggest challenges in coaching a minor league team is that the players are meant to move up.

When the players become very good, the parent team calls them up to play in the big leagues.

So far, the team has seen nine of the players from its opening day roster move up to the Mets, including five pitchers and two catchers.

“It’s nice to be able to say to these major league clubs, ‘Hey, this guy is prepared to go -- this is the guy that can go,’ knowing that we’ve taught him right," he said. "I feel good about those things.”

Backman was on the Mets team that won the World Series in 1986. Even though he would love to have an intact, winning team in Las Vegas, he cannot cheer against his former big league team or the guys he coached when they get called up.

Guests

Don Logan, president and COO, Las Vegas 51s; Wally Backman, manager, Las Vegas 51s

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