First things first. The Cheney Studs are not really “studs” in the colloquial sense. The semi-pro baseball team has played in Pierce and King counties for nearly 60 years and many of the players have indeed been studs, but all of those associated with the organization have had a connection to Ben Cheney and his lumber business.
Cheney helped provide financial support for the team when it began its run in the Pacific International League in 1954, and gave it the name “Studs” in honor of his business. Although the team has been known as the Seattle Studs for much of its existence, it has always been headquartered in Pierce County. When asked why, head coach Barry Aden said “the home field is wherever the coach lives.” Because the team has become nationally known as the Cheney/Seattle Studs, Aden said changing the name to include Tacoma would confuse people from other parts of the country who know it by its original name, but points out that the team has a huge local connection.
Since 2002 the Studs have played their home games at the University of Puget Sound. This summer that field will be renovated, so the team will be playing at Bob Maguinez Field, part of the Heidelberg Field complex just north of Foss High School.
Aden skippered the Studs from 1990-93, returning to the team’s helm in 2001. His connection with the team began as a 12-year-old attending a Little League game his brother was in at a field adjacent to one on which the Studs were playing. Aden got picked to be the team’s bat boy in that game and six years later he became a member of the team. He pitched for the Studs for four seasons (1980-82, 1985).
In between playing and coaching with the Studs, Aden coached the Tacoma Timbers (1994-98), also in the PIL. That team was owned by Ben Cheney’s son Brad.
And then there was 1995, when Aden came within one day of actually realizing his dream of playing Major League baseball.
That spring the major leagues were still on strike. Aden, who was teaching high school biology in Issaquah, took some time off to join the Mariners’ “replace-ball” team. During spring training the players had no idea if or when the strike would be settled. Their bags were packed for the flight north. Then, on the final day of spring training, the strike was settled, meaning the regular teams would be back just a few weeks later. Aden’s professional career ended there at spring training, where he pitched 13 2/3 innings, with a 3.50 ERA, four strikeouts and one walk.
Even though he never got to play in a regular season game, Aden will always remember living the life of a Major Leaguer for 42 days, calling it the highlight of his playing career.
After that, Aden left teaching and went into property management so he could have more free time to work with the teams. He worked for Brad Cheney from 1995-99, and then for Triple D Construction from 2000-08. He currently works for the King County Housing Authority, which allows him to work around the days off needed to accommodate the team’s road trips.
Aden feels that the time players spend with his teams gives them the opportunity to develop their skills so they can go on to have a professional career. “We are a college, ex-college, ex-minor league level of baseball that gives the players a chance to play and we are fun to watch,” he said, adding “I have a knack of putting these kids in at the right time, to showcase their talents.”
This knack is demonstrated by his record of developing players who have gone on to play professionally. These players include Justin Baughman, Randy Choate, David Riske, Willie Bloomquist and Justin Leone, all from his Timbers’ teams. All but Baughman and Leone are still playing.
Giants’ pitcher Tim Lincecum spent the summer of 2004 with the Studs. He won two games in the National Baseball Congress World Series that year and was named NBC Graduate of the Year in 2009. Bobby McEwen, who pitched for the Studs part of the 2008 season, was scouted and signed by the Brewers during the season. He currently runs a baseball training facility in Bothell.
Developing professional players is one of the reasons Aden and his wife have plowed so much of their own time and money into running this team and making it a success. Originally the team had several major contributors, including Jim Swanson of Swannie’s Comedy Underground in Seattle and Elisa Thomases, a sponsor who continues to serve as an advisor and official scorer. Throughout the last 26 years Steve Potter has been involved as a sponsor, owner and assistant general manager. However for the past six years sponsorship has been more difficult to secure. Current sponsors include Brad Cheney, Al Oremus, Randy Talbot, Chuck Mitchell, Performance Radiator and Thomases.
These sponsors, along with some generous individuals, have kept the team afloat. It takes more than $80,000 to cover the season’s expenses, so the Adens and a couple of others are not in this to get rich. It takes about $1,700 per day for the team to travel.
Aden hopes that returning the team to the Heidelberg complex will bring out some of the local fans who have followed semi-pro ball in the area bybuilding up a core of businesses and individuals who want to be sponsors of the legendary Studs. This is why he is using the name Cheney Studs along with the team’s classic navy blue, red and white colors this summer. He added that Brad Cheney’s continuing support has been extremely helpful. All contributions to the organization are entirely tax deductible.
Aden is especially moved by the fact that the games will be played at Bob Maguinez Field. Maguinez, who passed away in 2000, played for the Studs in 1959, 1960 and 1963 and a picture of him on the stadium shows him wearing a Studs’ cap with the letter C and a horse, the classic Studs’ logo. The field was dedicated to him in April 2002.
The team will begin play June 3 with a 5:30 p.m. game at Tacoma Community College’s Minnitti Field, at South 12th and Pearl streets. Their first game at Maguinez is June 10, at 7 p.m. against the Thurston County Senators.
In addition to 12 games at Maguinez Field, the team will travel to Northern California, western Canada, Everett, Lacey, the University of Washington and Portland. Aden hopes the Studs will end the season at the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan. They have played there for 10 consecutive years. In 2010 and 2008 the team finished second. They were fifth in 2005 and fourth in 1992.
Through the 2010 season Aden’s overall win-loss record is 714-318, with four ties.
Over the nearly 60 years of their existence, the Studs have had several nifty mottoes, including “Real Men, Real Grass” and “Once a Stud, Always a Stud.”
Perhaps the team’s overall effect on its fans can best be summed up in what Aden’s father told him at that first Studs’ game he saw when he was 12: “These guys are pretty good. You can only hope to be as good as them.” Aden said that was when he became enamored with the Studs and now he hopes he can involve more people in that ongoing love of the game, continuing to build great young men who are also great baseball players. Barry Aden is truly dedicated to carrying on the team’s tradition in a way that would make Ben Cheney proud.
For a complete schedule, roster and history of the Studs go to www.SeattleStuds.com.