Fans Responding To Everett Baseball Stadium Upgrade

Bob Bavasi doesn't want to talk about attendance at Everett Giants baseball games, even though he has added about 1,000 new seats to Everett Memorial Stadium and has been working hard to bring more fans through the turnstiles.

``It's a little like talking about a no-hitter while it's happening,'' he said. ``I don't want to jinx it.''

Sure enough, two hours after talking around the subject of increased attendance without ever actually addressing it, Bavasi announced that last night's Northwest League game with Boise had been rained out and would be made up as part of a doubleheader tonight.

While Bavasi tried to honor the tradition of not talking about a no-hitter, the scoreboard was showing just how big a hit the newly remodeled stadium has been. The Giants drew 3,126 for their opener against Bellingham. The Giants drew 2,683 for a Sunday game against Yakima on the first weekend of the season - a day that traditionally has not drawn well for the franchise - after pulling in 2,187 for a Saturday night game. The stadium's previous seating capacity was less than 2,000.

The renovation project, which took three years culminating with the new grandstands, has been a key part of Bavasi's long-range plans for the Everett franchise. The idea was to build a long-term home for the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

``I'm really beginning to feel like this thing is for real; it feels like we're here to stay,'' he said. ``Everything looks good out there, and just from a business standpoint, it's working out very well.

``And it really does look like a minor-league ballpark now, with grandstands and pennants flying. It feels good.''

Bavasi said the next step is to keep the park clean and fresh so that fans can be comfortable. Peanuts, for example, are sold with a bag stamped with the message: ``If you crack 'em, please sack 'em.'' Fans have been good about putting their peanut shells in the waste sacks, helping to keep the park clean, he said. Mr. Trash, an usher clad in a tuxedo, moves through the stands offering to take patrons' waste instead of tossing it underfoot, and Mr. Mop arrives promptly whenever someone spills a drink.

Those kinds of efforts ensure that fans won't have to walk through peanut shells or have their shoes stick to the stands from spilled pop.

``People really seem to appreciate that,'' Bavasi said.

Everett, with an 8-6 record going into tonight's doubleheader, will play an afternoon game tomorrow at 2 against the Boise Hawks (9-5) at Everett Memorial as part of the team's traditional Fourth of July program. A free fireworks display is scheduled at 9 p.m. in the football portion of the stadium complex.

Giants notes

-- Shortstop Ricky Ward leads Everett with a .400 batting average through 14 games. Ward has collected 22 hits in 55 at-bats, with a home run and 15 runs batted in. Ward had nine hits in 21 at-bats in a five-game road series at Bend.

-- Outfielder Derek Reid is second on the club in runs batted in with 13. Marcus Jensen is second in batting at .385 (10 for 26), followed by center fielder John Jackson, .349 (15 for 43). Jackson leads the team in stolen bases with eight. Reid has five thefts.

-- Outfielder Adam Hyzdu, San Francisco's No. 1 draft pick out of Cincinnati's Moeller High School, has gotten off to a slow start in Everett, hitting just .167 (6 for 36), with a homer and seven RBI. Catcher Eric Christopherson, also a first-round pick, fell into an 0-for-27 slump after hitting safely in the team's first two games. The former San Diego State standout broke out of his slump over the weekend to raise his average to .195.

-- The club released first baseman Heath Jones, who was hitless in six games. San Francisco signed three free agents and assigned them to Everett: Barry Miller, a first baseman from Old Dominion, Mike Nesmith, a catcher from Lewis-Clark State, and Fred Whatley, a pitcher from Azusa Pacific.

-- Second baseman Jason Young was promoted to Clinton, Iowa, one of San Francisco's two full-season Class A teams after hitting .289 for Everett.