Like the return of salmon to the waters where they were born, the Peninsula Oilers have returned to their annual Gusher, an event that for years promised the coming of summer and Alaska League Baseball for the Kenai. The popular event, once held at the Kenai National Guard Armory, was discontinued after nine eleven when the Armory was closed to public events. "I am thrilled with tonight's success after nearly a decade absence of the celebrity Gusher. One of the things that have been a goal of mine since arriving in 2006 was to bring the Gusher back, and when the Oilers Board of Directors met to discuss this, I said lets take it a step further and add the 1st annual Hall of Fame induction to the event," said Shawn Maltby, Oiler General Manager. "There are so many pioneers that started the Oiler program here and brought it to where it is today, that we thought it was time to recognize them and some of the great ball players that have come through here and had successful careers on and off the field. The Oiler Hall of Fame was certainly long overdue and there will be no shortage of inductees in the future, as we have had some well known major leaguers play and coach for the Oilers," added Maltby. First inductees to the Oiler Hall of Fame for their organizational support were Dick Morgan, Dwain Gibson, and Judy Buffington.
Keynote speaker for the Gusher was American Coaches Hall of Famer Jim Dietz, "Baseball is played as much off the field as it is on the field and seeing what happened here tonight in Kenai was really rewarding and what baseball is really all about. Derek Jeter once told me that it doesn't take talent to hustle and you see kids at this level of baseball and they may not have developed their talent yet, but they sure can hustle and that's what is rewarding for a coach. Coaching has always been my passion and at the college level you can help set a player's foundation and that's very rewarding, more like a vacation than work," Dietz told the Dispatch.
Ron Davis, 1975 Oiler pitcher, returned to Alaska for the first Oiler Hall of Fame induction. Davis was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1976. He played 5 years for the New York Yankees, including pitching in the 1981 World Series. Davis pitched his final game in 1988. "I got lucky, but it was all about the love of the game back then, not how high you could go in the game. You just wanted to play and always have a uniform on whether it was for the Oilers, your jr. college team, the Yankees, or a beer league. Baseball gets in your blood, it's the smell of the glove and it was just an added blessing to go as high as I did," said Davis.
Popular Oiler outfielder from 1975-1977, Julius Bowe, flew up from Los Angeles for the Hall of Fame induction. Bowe still holds numerous Oiler records ,including base hits and stolen bases in a season. "After college I went to law school, got married, had three kids, and went to work for the police department in the forensics department where I've been for the last 29 years. So far I have 4 grandkids and Kenai baseball and the people here still stand out as a highlight of my life. I want parents that bring a young player into their homes to know that these young men will remember their experience here the rest of their lives, whether they go on to play in the majors, or to become welders or attorneys," said Bowe. Also inducted during the inaugural Oiler Hall of Fame was Coach Mark Newman, pitcher Dave Stieb, and the late Michael Hildebrandt, who still holds several batting records 33 years after putting on an Oiler uniform. The 2010 Oiler season starts June 11th. To learn more about hosting a player or the coming season go to www.oilersbaseball.com.
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