History of the Oregon All-Star Series
Some of the greatest names in Oregon baseball history played in the old State-Metro All-Star Series, a fixture for decades at the Quinton Street Ballpark in The Dalles.
Longtime major-league veterans such as Dale Murphy, Scott Brosius, John Jaha, Kevin Gregg, Harold Reynolds, Dave Roberts, Trevor Wilson, and others who had productive careers or just a cup of coffee in the bigs got their first taste of a big-time atmosphere at the ballpark overlooking the Columbia River.
Fast forward to 2011.
The format and location of the annual event has changed. But the organizers, the Oregon High School Baseball Coaches Association and Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League, are confident a new venue, the addition of Reser's Fine Foods as the title sponsor and support of Nike can restore the luster and prominence of the newly-christened Oregon All-Star Series and again make the series the crown jewel of Oregon high school baseball.
More than 30 major leaguers from Oregon have played in the series over the years. All weren't as successful as Lincoln High star Mickey Lolich (1958) or Rex Putnam alum Brosius (1984), who earned Most Valuable Player awards in the 1968 and 1998 World Series with the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, respectively.
Not all won two National league MVP Awards and hit 398 career homers like Wilson High grad Murphy (1974), or became one of the few athletes to accomplish the rare MLB/NBA double, like Danny Ainge of North Eugene (1977).
But the future big-leaguers, and the hundreds of other former State-Metro stars who never made it that far, all created a weekend full of memories by playing in the series, which originated in 1958 and really became a big deal during a longtime run in The Dalles from 1971-2007.
"Playing with and against the elite players in the state is something that will forever be embedded in my head," said Kevin Gunderson, a Central Catholic grad and the MVP of the 2003 State-Metro Series.
"At the time I was invited I knew little about what the weekend was all about. I didn't quite realize how big of an honor it was until our athletic director at Central Catholic sat me down and told me that only the best in the state get invited and it will be a great weekend for me and my family."
Gunderson later pitched in two College World Series for Oregon State. He saved the 2006 national-championship game, won another game in the championship series and saved or finished several others in pool play. He helped lead two OSU teams to Pacific-10 Conference titles. However, his weekend in the The Dalles remains among the most memorable of his standout career.
"Arriving at the park I saw many familiar faces I recognized from various articles in the paper," he recalled. "I developed many friends over the weekend and everyone really enjoyed being there. All the players stayed at the same hotel, so needless to say we didn't go to bed real early.
"The opening game finally started and I had one of my best outings of my high school career. I threw the first five innings and had 12 strikeouts without allowing a hit. It truly was a magical night and weekend. I saved another game and the Metro team was victorious.
"The topper was when I was named MVP of the series. The memories I have from that one weekend in June back in 2003 are something I will always cherish when thinking back on my baseball career."
Former Arizona Diamondbacks/San Francisco Giants/Chicago Cubs outfielder Cole Gillespie, a West Linn graduate who played in the 2002 game before attending OSU, echoes Gunderson's sentiments.
"The Oregon All-Star series was an honor and privilege to play in," said Gillespie, the 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year and a member of two OSU College World Series/Pac-10 championship teams, and the 2006 NCAA championship team.
"It is the only opportunity you get where some of the most talented seniors in the state of Oregon are put together on the same field. I know a lot of players from my class went on to play at the collegiate level and professionally.
"Many of the players I grew up playing with or against, and I still stay in contact with them to this day. I remember it being a special event and can honestly say I had a great experience participating in it."
Murphy, Brosius, Jaha (David Douglas 1984), Gregg (Corvallis 1996), Roberts (Corvallis 1969) , Trevor Wilson (Oregon City 1984), Harold Reynolds (Corvallis 1979) and his brother, Donnie Reynolds (Corvallis 1971), and Mickey Lolich and his brother, Ron (Central Catholic 1965) aren't the only Oregonians to play in the State-Metro Series and the major leagues.
Scott Anderson (Lakeridge 1974), Travis Baptist (Hillsboro 1990), Lute Barnes (North Salem 1965), Darwin Barney (Southridge 2004), Bob Beall (Hillsboro 1966), Jamie Burke (Roseburg 1990), Brian Burres (Barlow 1999), Dan Carlson (Reynolds 1988), Darrell Ceciliani (Madras 2008), Ken Dayley (The Dalles 1977), Tom Dodd (Benson 1976), Rob Dressler (Madison 1972), Mike Ekstrom (Barlow 2001), Cole Gillespie (West Linn 2002) and Eric Gunderson (Aloha 1984) also made the major leagues.
So did Mike Kinkade (Tigard 1991), Eddie Kunz (Parkrose 2004), Jeff Lahti (Hood River 1975), Terry Ley (Madison 1965), Jed Lowrie (North Salem 2002), Mitch Lyden (Beaverton 1983), Rob Mallicoat (Hillsboro 1983), Mike Martin (Milwaukee 1977), Darryl Motley (Grant 1978), Phil Ouellette (North Medford 1979), Joe Paterson (McMinnville 2004), Ben Petrick (Glencoe 1995), Mike Stutes (Lake Oswego 2004) and Bob Wolcott (North Medford 1992).
About the Oregon All-Star Series
The Oregon High School Baseball All-Star Series showcases elite senior players from the state's 5A and 6A classifications over a set of games held each third weekend in June. The All-Star Series thrived in The Dalles for decades (1971-2007) as the State-Metro Series and celebrated its 50th anniversary in its last year at Quinton Street Ball Park in The Dalles. Bend hosted the 5A Series in 2008 and 2009 while the 6A Series was held in McMinnville those same years before the two classifications combined to play a 5A/6A All-Star Series in McMinnville in 2010.