Raptors call on ‘family members’ to support Parkers

Jul 2 2013 - 10:58pm

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Ballparks are magical places, but contrary to what we've seen in movies, they cannot heal wounds and do not perform miracles.

Those things come from far more significant places.

Ballparks are made of brick, mortar, cement and metal surrounding a spectacular combination of green grass, red dirt and white chalk. They're often the backdrop for vivid memories and moments of great joy, but no matter how badly we might want them to, they cannot alter a person's DNA nor defy the laws of physics.

But as trivial as this will sound, ballparks can be, if needed, places of refuge where anyone -- baseball fan or not -- can hide for a few hours. They can be, if called upon, places where cares are temporarily forgotten.

With that in mind, the Ogden Raptors will do something truly special July 20 when they celebrate "Pink The Park Night" at Lindquist Field.

That night, the Raptors and their fans will celebrate the life of Emilie Parker, the 6-year-old Ogden native who was struck down during the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Parker family is expected to attend for the event, which Raptors team president Dave Baggott believes will raise thousands of dollars for the Emilie Parker Fund.

What the Raptors have planned is an excellent idea, not just because it benefits a worthy cause -- that much is obvious -- but also because it borrows from one of the community's greatest strengths.

The Raptors and their fans have indeed been a tight-knit group since the team set up shop in 1994.

Since then fans have supported the team and the team has supported the community.

"We don't just have fans," Baggott said. "We have family members."

Baggott hesitated a bit when he made that statement, only because he knew it could be taken as perhaps superficial or overly simplistic.

But there is truth in what he said.

For proof, look no farther than Robbie Parker, Emilie's dad.

More than a decade ago, Robbie spent three seasons as "Oggie," the Raptors' mascot.

He trudged around in that hot, sweaty costume, entertaining fans and players alike.

He is and always will be part of the Raptors family.

"We've got to look out after our own," Baggott said.

To honor Emilie and hopefully bring a measure of joy to the Parker Family, the Raptors will wear pink jerseys that night, each one with "Emilie" across the back.

Pink was Emilie's favorite color.

Afterward, those jerseys will be auctioned off starting at $500 apiece. In addition, the team is encouraging fans to wear pink to the park that night, the idea being to bathe the ballpark in pink, from one side to the other.

From the earliest age, Emilie was a true artist so it's not too hard to imagine her delight at seeing such a spectacle of color: green grass, seats and outfield wall; the red dirt, the white lines and, of course, the splash of pink.

"We just want to pink the park," Baggott said.

They will.

You will.

It'll be a magical night at the ballpark, no doubt. But above everything else, the greatest service Lindquist Field will provide that night will simply to be a place where baseball is played and where friends and family go to watch.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He can be reached at or at jburton@standard.net. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247

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