One of the most highly-respected and storied sports team in Oregon history is the Salem Senators. Founded in 1940, and named after Salem, Oregon, the Capital of Oregon, the name has represented many various teams.
Waters Field, previously located at 25th Street, and a block north of Mission, was the home of the Salem Senators. The brand new 5,000 seat stadium was built by George Waters who relocated the Class B Bellingham Chinooks from Bellingham, Washington. A record crowd of 4,865 showed up for the first game; the largest crowd ever to attend a sporting event in Salem at that time. The team went thru many levels of professional baseball – Class A, Class B, Northwest League, Western International League, and in 1961 was renamed the Dodgers after becoming a farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Notable players were future Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Bobby Cox and Mike Piazza, in addition to Jim Lefebrve and Mel Krause who is a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Waters Field burned down in November, 1966, being set on fire by an arsonist.
However, this tragedy did not derail the Senators as they returned to the Class A Northwest League in 1977. They played their home games at Holland Youth Park prior to moving to Chemeketa Community College. In 1981, team President, Clint Holland, signed a player development agreement with the California Angels changing the name to the Salem Angels participating in the Northwest League. Joe Maddon, who went on to Manage the Anaheim Angels, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs and California Angels, and win two World Series, was the Manager of the 1982 Salem Angels. Notable players were future major leaguers Mark McLemore, Kirk McCaskill, Bob Kipper, Jack Howell, Ray Chadwick, Dante Bichette, Doug Jennings, Erik Pappas, and Chuck Finley. 1987 was the team’s last season in the Northwest League, and featured OF/3B Ruben Amaro, Jr.
And as they say “what goes around comes around”, and we proudly welcome the Salem Senators back in 2021. The highly-respected and storied team remains after 80 years.