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Eugene Ems hope commemorative jerseys will explode on the auction block

Baseball player wearing "exploding whales" jersey.
Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club.
For several games this season the Eugene Emeralds became the Exploding Whales, including Brett Standlee, #48.

A whale of an explosion from 1970 still echoes through Oregon history and culture. This time, it’s been through a curious baseball promotion that culminates this weekend.

Running baseball player with exploding whales jersey.
Craig Strobeck/Craig Strobeck
Photo provided by the Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club.
The Exploding Whales host the Everett Aquasox in a Northwest League baseball contest at PK Park in Eugene on Friday May 26, 2023. William Keppner wears his team's commemorative jersey.

The minor-league Eugene Emeralds have played several games this season as the Eugene Exploding Whales, a nod to the ill-fated demolition of a whale carcass near Florence. 

Anne Culhane is the team’s director of community relations and merchandise.  She said the distinctive Exploding Whale jerseys worn by players will be auctioned off Saturday, with proceeds to benefit Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute (MMI).

“We're excited for it,” Culhane told KLCC. “We did not expect it to be such a nationwide phenomenon. Soon as people walk by our team store and see the exploding whales, they'll be like, 'Why the whales?' And as soon as we mention about years ago they blew up a whale they're like, ‘Oh, yeah, I heard about that!’ And we’re excited to continue it next year.”

Culhane says besides sharing whale research tidbits during games, they’ve also worked with the City of Florence to promote tourism.

In a release, MMI Director Lisa T. Balance said, “We are thrilled by the opportunity the Emeralds have provided us this season. It has been a fun summer at the ballpark for our professors, staff, post-docs and students, and we’ve enjoyed sharing our passion for marine mammals in Oregon and beyond with the team and their fans.”

The game starts Saturday at 5pm in Eugene’s PK Park. It's a double-header, since a game earlier in the week was postponed due to air quality concerns.

The Eugene Emeralds are an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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