The Chico Experience Endures

The Chico Experience Endures

“Since baseball time is measured only in outs,” wrote Roger Angel, one of the finest interpreters of our national pastime, “all you have to do is succeed utterly: keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you defeat time. You remain forever young.”

This is perhaps my favorite baseball quote, and I think about it particularly at this time of the year, when the World Series is under way. As I write this column, we’re on the eve of Game Four. But it also resonates with several features in this issue of Chico Statements that harken to both the roots of baseball and the spirit of youth.

This year’s World Series was contested between two of the oldest professional baseball clubs in the country. The Giants were established in 1883 and won their first National League championship in 1888. The Tigers are the oldest American League team continuously using the same name and from the same city, and they claimed their first league championship in 1887.

Now, if any of these dates sound familiar, they should. Chico State Normal School was founded in 1887, and construction of our first buildings occurred in 1888. Baseball was also the first sport organized at the school.

On the back cover of this issue are a few photos from a reenactment of a town ball game that took place on the campus as part of this year’s Chico Experience Week. Town ball was baseball’s most immediate predecessor, and I think it is safe to say that Chico has not witnessed a finer assembly of “ballists” adept at this game since the days of John and Annie Bidwell.

On the front cover, there is an assemblage of another sort. Nearly two thousand students, faculty, and staff gathered to form “1-2-5” in celebration of the 125th anniversary of our founding. Among the folks who were here to participate in the week’s activities were several dozen members of the class of 1962. Yes, here for their 50th anniversary. They were not here to recover their youth, but they were here to show their spirit and to remind all of us that staying young is largely a matter of spirit and choice and connection to values and experiences that endure.

Clearly, the Chico Experience endures. It is reflected in the harmony between the campus’s natural and built environments, all the more evident in the transformation of a state highway, First Street, to a pedestrian promenade through the center of the campus, and the reimagination of the creek corridor with the new Ring Roll sculpture on one side and an improved Alumni Glen area on the other. It is reinforced through the physical relationship between the campus and the city, where plazas and courtyards form our interface, not tall buildings with their windowless backs to the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. It is refreshed through academic programs of great distinction, including our music industry and technology baccalaureate degree, and through alumni of high achievement, as is the case with Sandy Lerner.

There is more, much more, to the spirit of a place. But this place, this University now 125 years young, measures time through renewal as much as it does through the passage of years and the procession of students. It is how we “succeed utterly.”

Paul J. Zingg, President