Support grows for Clay Huntington Way

Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission will gather public comment until Feb. 10 regarding a request to name a city street in...

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will gather public comment until Feb. 10 regarding a request to name a city street in honor of the late broadcaster Clay Huntington, who passed away on June 1 at the age of 89. The proposal calls for designating a section of South Cheyenne Street from the corner of South 19th Street near the Heidelberg Davis Complex to the entrance of Cheney Stadium “Clay Huntington Way.” If approved by the commission, the request would then be forwarded to Tacoma City Council for final consideration.

On Jan. 11, the commission held a public hearing that was attended by former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, Tacoma Pierce County Sports Commission Executive Director Tim Ware, Tacoma Athletic Commission (TAC) Executive Secretary Doug McArthur, TAC Finance Committee Chair Tony Anderson, TAC President Ron Crowe, and Victoria Geehan-Shilley, daughter of the late radio broadcaster Jerry Geehan. “It was my father who gave the young Clay Huntington his first job in radio,” Geehan-Shilley told the commission. “The renaming . . . is a fitting way to honor Clay and to keep his memory alive.”

Huntington was born in 1922 and began his broadcasting career in Tacoma in 1941. He covered local sports and went on to own four stations carrying the KLAY call letters, according to KLAY’s Web site. The current station, KLAY-1180 AM, has operated in Tacoma for 20 years and broadcasts Tacoma Rainiers baseball games. Huntington was a sports writer for the Tacoma Times, a TAC founder, and helped establish the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame and the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame. In 1957, he created “Friends of Kids Baseball” to build what would become the Heidelberg Park sports complex for youth baseball. In 1960, he partnered with Ben B. Cheney to build a new stadium for the Tacoma Giants professional baseball team. Today, the stadium is home to the Tacoma Rainiers Triple-A baseball team.

On July 5, TAC’s McArthur and Anderson wrote a letter to Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland on behalf of the TAC commission. “Since there are no homes whatsoever on that stretch of Cheyenne it would seem to us that it would not create any opposition whatsoever and it certainly would be a most appropriate location to honor Huntington for his remarkable dedication to both amateur and professional baseball,” wrote McArthur and Anderson. “How appropriate if the road leading into both facilities would become Clay Huntington Way! We trust that you would share our enthusiasm and rightfully recognize a man who truly cared for the very people for whom those two sports venues exist.”

On Oct. 24, Mayor Strickland wrote a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission supporting the request. “His first love was baseball and his enthusiasm for the game led to two of the most significant projects in the city’s history near South 19th and Tyler,” wrote Strickland. “There is no question that Heidelberg would never have been a facility for youth and adult amateur teams if not for Huntington’s support and there is no arguing his role in returning professional baseball to our City.”

On Nov. 14, Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution supporting the effort. In a Nov. 29 letter to Mayor Strickland and Tacoma City Council, commission president Dahl wrote, “Clay Huntington’s efforts continue to touch the lives of so many of us that have grown up in Tacoma and will continue to provide benefit to future generations. This gesture of recognition is the least we can do to honor such a wonderful man who made so many contributions to our city.”

If you would like to comment on the proposal, you may do so by sending written comments to Reuben McKnight, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Tacoma, Community and Economic Development Department, 747 Market Street, Room 1036, Tacoma, WA 98402. Written comments can also be faxed to (253) 591-2002 or e-mailed to reuben.mcknight@cityoftacoma.org. The deadline is Fri., Feb. 10.

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Public hearing planned for Huntington Way (12/29/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=2092422&more=0

Group wants street named after late Tacoma sports broadcaster Huntington (12/12/11) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=2084058&more=0

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