| TRAVEL NEBRASKA |
On a given summer evening in Gering, Nebraska, you can take the wonderful opportunity to enjoy America’s Favorite Pastime, a game of baseball.
Story by: Carianne White
Photography: Hawk Buckman
Edited by: Toni Warburton
| PLAY BALL
In 2017, Chuck and Mayra Heeman visited the Gering area and fell in love with everything and everyone they encountered. After their visit, they made the decision to become the owners and founders of the Western Nebraska Pioneers.
The Western Nebraska Pioneers are a summer collegiate wood bat baseball team that plays as part of the Independence Baseball League. The current roster is filled with 41 college players and 4 coaches.
2022 is the 5th Season that the Western Nebraska Pioneers will be playing at Oregon Trail Park Stadium in Gering, Nebraska.
| BUILDING A COMMUNITY ASSET
Oregon Trail Park Stadium was built by the City of Gering after Chuck and Mayra had agreed to bring the Western Nebraska Pioneers to the town. While Gering is the smallest market in which they have worked or owned a team, The Heemans said when they visited Gering they were awed by the natural beauty of the area and believed they had found a place where they would be happy and could spend the rest of their lives. The first full season for the Western Nebraska Pioneers was in May of 2018. Since opening day, Chuck and Mayra have made many connections in the community which include host families for the players, friends and business sponsors, as well as an overwhelmingly welcome number of personal connections.
Baseball not only provides entertainment and a fun family environment but baseball values history and America. With baseball, you can be part of history at every single game. During the 2022 season, there will be many chances to celebrate the history of the Western Nebraska Pioneers. For the first time in five years, the City of Gering has given the Pioneers permission to have fireworks after a double header game on July 1st. For many years it has been tradition for ballparks across the nation to have fireworks after games around Independence Day and the Western Nebraska Pioneers are excited to add Oregon Trail Park Stadium to the list of ballparks participating in 2022.
Another exciting addition to the 5th year of play at Oregon Trail Park Stadium will be the US Military All Stars vs. the Pioneers on Saturday, July 2nd. The US Military All Stars is a team of Armed Forces personnel who play and provide patriotic entertainment in 45 states and 12 different countries. During their upcoming visit to Oregon Trail Park Stadium, the Western Nebraska Pioneers will be wearing special Exhibition Game Jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game with the proceeds being donated to the Western Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Scottsbluff.
In addition to the excitement of the All-Stars Game, July 2nd is a Saturday night and every Saturday night at Oregon Trail Park Stadium is Family Picnic Night at the park. Tickets on Saturday nights include an all-you-can-eat buffet of favorite ballpark foods along with the price of admission to the game. Enjoy all-you-can-eat hot dogs, burgers, brats, chips, soda and water while watching the Western Nebraska Pioneers take on the U.S. Military All Stars. The first pitch is at 6:35 pm.
| THE BALLPARK
Oregon Trail Park Stadium can seat 1,000 fans in the stadium during a regular-season game. According to Chuck Heeman, there are 402 reserved seats that have been sold out since the inaugural season and only around 10-12 season tickets become available to be purchased in the off-season. There are 120 general admission season tickets that are also sold each season.
The Western Nebraska Pioneers have the highest number of season ticket holders in the league and have a waiting list for tickets if any do become available for purchase. The stadium also boasts two-party decks that are usually sold out for every game. A party deck includes the option of having a favorite feast of ball-park food and drinks catered along with reserved seats.
Every Friday at the Oregon Trail Park Stadium, The Western Nebraska Pioneers offer a fan favorite, ”Fill the Park Fridays”. Local businesses sponsor Fridays at the stadium and in exchange for the sponsorship, the fans can visit the local businesses to pick up free tickets to the Friday night game while supplies last.
Although Oregon Trail Park Stadium was essentially built to host baseball games for the Western Nebraska Pioneers, the list of events planned and the potential for even more events is an exciting time for the owners as well as the community. One new addition to the 2022 Event Calendar will be the NEXT Young Professionals Beer and Wine Festival on August 10, 2022.
Chuck and Mayra said they are very excited to be the new venue for the NYP Beer and Wine Festival this year, it is a new event for Oregon Trail Park Stadium and a welcome community get-together. Chuck and Mayra are also happy to announce that the stadium will once again host Fiestas Patrias. More details will come out on both events soon, so be sure to follow the Western Nebraska Pioneers on Facebook, or on the web at www.wnpioneers.com.
If you are looking for a way to wind down and relax on a summer evening, take the time to stop out at Oregon Trail Park Stadium and spend a few hours taking in some of America’s pastime.
| MORE INFORMATION