Paul Matney has about as much long-term, “institutional” knowledge of Amarillo, Texas, as anyone who’s lived there in the past century.
So, when the retired Amarillo College president said in 2015 that “Amarillo is a baseball town” and would consume minor-league baseball like no one’s business, we all should have been paying careful attention.
Matney became a spokesman for a campaign to win a non-binding referendum on what was called merely a “multipurpose event venue” at the time. His statements seems to be proving to be more than truthful. Matney seems to know baseball. More than that, he knows the community that now plays host to a AA minor-league baseball franchise. It is affiliated with the National League’s San Diego Padres. They call this team the Sod Poodles.
It is playing baseball in a brand new ballpark before nearly full crowds every night the “Soddies” are at home.
What a remarkable turn of events for the city.
I am delighted beyond measure to see the city embrace this form of sports entertainment. It also is fascinating to see who suits up these days for the Sod Poodles and who, eventually, makes it to the Big Leagues … and who among those might carve out over time careers befitting of inducting into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
It won’t happen? I young man named Tony Gwynn played hardball in Amarillo for a time in the early 1980s when the city was home to an earlier affiliated team.
Gwynn is now in the Hall of Fame.
As for Matney, I admire his knowledge of the community and his courage he exhibited by declaring that “Amarillo is a baseball town.”
He appears to have been so correct.