Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

70°F

Portland

Partly Cloudy

Humidity: 51%

Wind: 10 mph

  • 20 Aug 2014

    Mostly Clear 77°F 54°F

  • 21 Aug 2014

    Mostly Sunny 79°F 59°F


Wilson High christens Clopton Field

In Southwest Portland, there stands a cathedral of prep baseball.

The cathedral sits on a hill that leaves it exposed to whipping winds in the spring. The infield grass is always perfectly manicured, the dirt meticulously groomed, and the outfield stretches farther than at some major league ballparks.

Over the years, countless boys have spent so many spring and summer days playing the game they love on that field. The field has seen triumph and heartbreak, joy and sorrow, wins and losses.

The cathedral, which is home to the Wilson High baseball team, never had a name until Monday, when it was christened “Clopton Field” in honor of Wilson coach Mike Clopton, a man who has devoted his life to the game of baseball and the young men who have traveled through his program.

Clopton began coaching high school baseball in 1977 at the now-defunct Jackson High. He coached there until 1982, when Jackson and Wilson merged. Clopton took over Wilson in 1983 and has been the Trojans' skipper ever since.

Monday’s game against Benson was the 1,000 game that Clopton has coached — more than any coach in any Oregon high school sport.

Clopton won league championships in 1977, 1982, 1987-1989, 2006-2009 and 2012. In 1989, Clopton led the Trojans to a runner-up finish in the state championship game. Wilson won state titles in 2006 and 2012.

It never occurred to Clopton that he would coach so long or accomplish so much.

“Growing up, I never wanted a field named after me,” he said. “I wanted to play in the big leagues. Even when I realized that I liked coaching more than I liked playing — after my senior year (at Cleveland High), when I had coached a year of Babe Ruth and found that I really enjoyed the coaching part of it, I never really thought too much long term. It was just one year at a time, and it’s just always been that way.

"You just enjoy it. You don’t think too much about things.”

The plan heading into Monday’s game was to keep Clopton out of the loop and surprise him with a pregame ceremony and the unveiling of “Clopton Field” signs on the outfield scoreboard and the clubhouse behind the stands.

It is just about impossible to keep Clopton from knowing what is going on in his own baseball program, though.

“I sort of knew what was going on,” he said.

He did not realize how big of a production it would be, though. Half an hour before the game, Dwight Jaynes, Clotpon’s longtime friend, addressed the crowd. Jaynes was followed by Carl Cadonau of Alpenrose Dairy, which sponsors the Wilson summer ball team. Then Wilson Principal Brian Chatard spoke. After Chatard was finished, Clopton finally spoke to the crowd.

“I didn’t know how big of a circus the whole thing was going to be,” Clopton later said, laughing.

Clopton admitted that the ceremony and seeing the field named after him was unsettling in a way.

“It’s a nice honor, and a lot of people did a lot of work, but it is a little embarrassing,” he said. “I try to be low-key and even. So it’s a little overwhelming, but I got through it.”

And so did the Trojans. Wilson blew Tech out of the park, ringing up a 19-0 win.

“We were in good form, considering the distractions,” Clopton said. “I was really proud. The kids just came out and did their stuff.”

The win was the 585th of Clopton’s career. But afterward, he was already thinking about the Trojans' next game.

“Now we’ve got to get a win on Wednesday,” he said. “It’s ‘what have you done for me lately?’ We’ve got to come out and be ready to play.”