Center Field Memorium

    This plaque in memory of Joshua McCuistion III was placed at the base of the flag pole just outside the center field fence at Adair Kennedy Field. McCuistion died at age 15 in a hiking accident at A.J. Falls near the Men

    There once was a boy who loved baseball.

      I know this because I have stood where he has.

      It’s a spot many look out at when sitting behind home plate at Adair Kennedy Field.

      I like to imagine this boy hitting a home run to center field there.

      I’m sure, like many young boys, he’d go to the baseball parks in Juneau and press his face against the fences or through the cracks of wood siding or stand shielding his face from the rain or sun to gaze longingly out at his own dreams.

      Maybe he’d be chewing the leather ties on his glove, in his mind hitting a home run like the bigger lads he idolized.

      Maybe his hair would be wild from riding his bike like the wind to reach a park where he knew other lovers of the game were gathering. His glove dangling on the handlebars, a bat balanced on his shoulder, a ball tucked into a jacket pocket.

      Maybe he’d go to every game he could go to, such as those of adult softball, or Little League or high school, or pick-up games at Cope Park or Melvin Park.

      Some might remember the young boy as being quiet.

      Some would know he played baseball because they chose him once or twice for their side in a pick-up game.

      “He was always around,” a local would remember. “We didn’t have much to do then so we played pick-up games. He was a guy who always had a mitt.”

      Many didn’t know him personally, as they played in town and he was from the Valley, living at Glacier View Trailer Court.

      Most don’t remember him too well, but they do remember Sunday, July 6, 1986.

      This baseball loving boy, age 15, and a friend, age 14, were spending a day riding their bikes on the East Glacier Trail at the Mendenhall Glacier.

      I like to imagine they were passing time until a game that night.

      They left their bikes and the trail and crossed a creek that fed the AJ Falls just below.

      It began as a beautiful day.

      I imagine they talked of fireworks from the days before, the parade, of many things including, of course, baseball.

      On the return over the creek the boy slipped, fell into the water and was swept over the falls onto the rocks below.

      It was about 1:45 p.m., possibly hours before a game time.

      The young boy’s passion would be crushed in the fall.

      The acquaintance of the boy would never again return to the glacier. The boy’s family would move away.

      Roughly 328 feet from home plate at Adair Kennedy Field in Juneau is a place this boy dreamed of.

      It’s just outside the center field fence, at the base of the flagpole where the United States and Alaska flags are tethered.

      It’s a concrete block overgrown with weeds.

      On the block, a plaque reads:

      IN MEMORIUM

      JOSHUA MCCUISTION III

      1971-1986

      "A BOY WHO LOVED BASEBALL"

      This young baseball-loving boy would be buried far from center field, at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in Beach, North Dakota. That spot is just across the aisle from the rest of his family, with one plot empty beside him for his mother.

      But the spot in Juneau in center field still takes my breath away.

      It’s a spot few know of. His legacy of how fragile life can be, forgotten.

      It’s become covered with moss, wild flowers and other growth. It’s passed and ignored daily by people enjoying a day at the ball game or walking their dogs or strolling hand-in-hand.

      Yet someone cleans it from time to time.

      I, too, find myself rubbing away a spot of dirt whenever I stand there.

      It’s a place where a young boy would have loved to have hit a home run.

      A boy like Joshua Perry McCuistion III.

      A boy who loved baseball.

    More from News of the North

    • Appeals Court Panel Orders Review of EPA Decision in Alaska

      JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A split federal appeals court panel has sent back for further legal review a 2019 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw proposed restrictions on large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. The EPA during the Obama administration proposed but never finalized restrictions on large-scale mining in response to the Pebble Mine project.

    • Dunleavy says Legislature may be called back June 23, unless changes are made by tomorrow

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said he is "prepared" to call the Legislature back into session on June 23 if they do not craft a full budget by Friday evening, the last day of the special session.

    • Alaska Legislative Leaders Approve Retroactive Allowances

      JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska legislative leaders have agreed to allow lawmakers to collect retroactively an allowance for the special session now nearing its end.

    • Just How Fast is Seward’s Lydia Jacoby

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - When Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old Seward Tsunami Swim Club sensation, touched the wall at Tuesday’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in the finals of the 100-meter breaststroke and the her lane clock stopped at one minute 05.28 seconds, a crowd of Juneau’s Glacier Swim Club athletes, clad in swim gear at practice, erupted in cheer.

    • Alaska State Capitol reopens to the public

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Legislative Council, a group made up of members from both the House and Senate, unanimously agreed to reopen the Alaska State Capitol to members of the public in a meeting Wednesday.

    • Story sees PFD and other funding issues not being resolved until August special session

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau Representative Andi Story believes a $525 Permanent Fund Dividend is too low and will eventually be increased to $1,100, but not in this special session.

    • NCL okays Juneau's request for donation redirection

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted 6-3 on Monday evening to decline a $2 million donation from Norwegian Cruise Line, citing it as "inappropriate" and bad timing. Instead, they decided to ask NCL to redirect the funds to the Juneau Community Foundation.

    • Alaska Hiker Chased Off Trail by Bears

      ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on a trail reached a road and flagged down help Wednesday, authorities said.

    • Alaska Legislature Passes Budget with Funding Holes

      Juneau, Alaska (AP / KINY) - The Alaska Legislature approved a state spending package following a series of dramatic votes in the Senate on Wednesday and impassioned speeches highlighting the tensions over the annual dividend paid to residents and the frayed nerves after five months in session.

    • Senators press Interior Secretary Haaland on oil lease pause

      Washington (AP) - Both Republican and Democratic senators are pressing Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for answers after a federal court blocked the Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

    • JPD going "backwards" on officer recruitment

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau Police Department has taken a step backwards in its effort to recruit officers.

    • Douglas Flag Day winners announced

      Douglas, Alaska (KINY) -On June 14, the Douglas Fire Fighters ranked their favorite flag decorations on Douglas. The judges have made their decisions in the Douglas Flag Day competition.

    Comments

    Add a comment

    Log in to the club to add your comment.

    Current Conditions

    Crude Oil Price