SALEM,Ore., (07/06/2015) – Baseball fans gathered Tuesday night, June 30, in the stadium of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes to celebrate Oregon Cattle Night. Cowboy hats and a hay-bale photo booth added a ranching flare to the stadium’s Volcanoes merchandise and ballpark food.

Jerry Howard, the Volcanoes’ senior marketing executive, invited the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) to join this final night of the Volcanoes’ first 5-game series honoring Oregon agriculture.

To prepare to highlight this key Oregon industry, Howard did his homework. Over the course of four months, he visited 54 ranches, farms, associations, and food processors in Oregon. “I’m 74 and I didn’t know there are 225 different varieties of Oregon Ag,” Howard said. “We sat down and chose five areas to do the first year and do a very good job of it.” The last of these nights focused on Oregon cattle and food banks.

Kayli Hanley, OCA’s communications director, jumped at the opportunity for OCA to participate. “What’s more American than cowboys and a good old fashion baseball game?” she said.

Mack holding a Volcanoes Baseball.

Mack holding a Volcanoes Baseball.

OCA asked a couple of young cowboys to help start off the evening. Mack traveled all the way from Echo, Oregon to throw the ceremonial first pitch. The eight-year-old said his favorite part of helping start the Volcanoes’ game cowboy-style was “being on the actual baseball field.”

Carter, a cowboy in the first grade, represented OCA, ranchers, and kids across the state, by sprinting around the four plates in the ceremonial first run. He said he liked “running the bases.”

The fun continued after the opening ceremony. OCA and Oregon Cattle Women shared a spot behind home plate to offer raffle tickets, stickers, and fun ranching facts to the fans. OCA’s Administrative Assistant, Brittany Steele said she was excited to reach out to people. “I love baseball and cows, and this is a combination of both!”

Howard, known as “Howie” around the stadium, was excited to see the interaction between urban audiences and the Ag community.  “Baseball is sort of a common thread amongst everyone. Urban or rural, old or young, male or female, obviously everyone has heard of it, if not played it. Baseball has the ability to draw everyone together.”

One of the mid-game diversions included a race between three cardboard cows hoofing it behind the outfield fence. The evening rounded out with a sample of Oregon beef provided at the gates by Oregon Cattlewomen.

OCA's Rachel Baugh, Brittany Steele, and Keith Nantz.

OCA’s Rachel Baugh, Brittany Steele, and Keith Nantz.

Hanley was excited for this chance to meet urban Oregonians on common ground to show them the presence of ranchers in their community.  “Ranching isn’t a thing of the past,” Hanley said. “It is alive and well in today’s community and a huge part of Oregon agriculture. There are all kinds of ranchers, young and old, who work hard to raise healthy animals and provide for their families. It is exciting seeing youth like Mack and Carter excited about ranching!”

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

By Rachel Baugh