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Matthies Mug

Steve Matthies

Rumors have been rumbling for a few weeks, and now appear to be more than that.

According to a local television station’s report, Klamath Falls Gems owner Joe O’Connor has until Monday to make contact with the group which runs Kiger Stadium if the college wood-bat team is going to play this summer.

If not, the stadium will be a lot more quiet.

That appears to be what will happen, although there are individuals who are working to make sure there is a team this season.

The Great West League, of which the Gems were one of six teams last season, ceased operations for the 2019 season, a move made Oct. 4. The word was there were teams which would opt to play an independent schedule.

One team, Medford, was purchased by an area businessman and the Rogues have joined the Golden State League, which is where Klamath Falls was for two years until it joined the Great West League for the 2018 season.

When the GWL All-Star game was played at Kiger Stadium, management from three league teams said they were willing to work with O’Connor to help bring the Gems back to where they were in the West Coast League.

There also were some underlying rumblings about the direction of the GWL, which likely was a significant reason the somewhat nascent league folded.

A local television station reported that O’Connor not only failed to respond to the organization which runs Kiger Stadium, but city officials as well. Efforts to contact O’Connor by the Herald and News also have gone unanswered.

We were told he did not have a cell phone, nor had access to another telephone.

What has to be questioned now is whether, and a failure to communicate, will undo much of the positive things O’Connor had done in his two years as majority owner, to rebuild bridges which had been, in the past, burned.

There also have been inquiries about whether or not the Gems are for sale, some by locals, and others by individuals with affiliations to Klamath Falls.

Oregon Tech and American Legion baseball will continue to use Kiger Stadium, and city officials, according to the television report, are open to proposals to keep collegiate baseball action during the summers.

Whether the Gems would be welcomed by the Golden State League are open to consideration. Most of the teams in that league enjoyed playing at Kiger Stadium, and players enjoyed the rabid Klamath Falls fans, so the Gems likely would be welcomed back.

Where everything goes regarding the Gems remains pure conjecture.

Herald and News changes

Several individuals have noted bylines and photo credits from Joaquin Aguilar have diminished over the last few weeks.

They have.

After 3½ years with the Herald and News sports department, Aguilar left right after Thanksgiving for a position at Klamath Community College, one he is well suited to handle as he works with high school students, Hispanic students in particular, to work through the process to attend college.

He still will do some work for the H&N.

General manager/editor Gerry O’Brien, meanwhile, has worked diligently to find a replacement. We also are working at adding a couple more part-time staffers to cover the 17 high schools, along with Oregon Tech, the H&N reports on.

With basically a one-person staff, the H&N is trying to get as much local content into the sports section as it can, but it is likely a few things might slip through the cracks. Not what we want, but it will happen until we are back to “full” strength.

Steve Matthies is Herald and News sports editor. He can be reached at 541-885-4411, or at smatthies@heraldandnews.com.