A major player in Tacoma's sports and radio world died Wednesday. He is Clay Huntington, the sports and civic icon. His gifts to the area included bringing Triple-A baseball back to Tacoma in 1960 and putting together the Tacoma Athletic Commission.
Huntington died at Allenmore Hospital. He was 89 years old.
The Tacoma News Tribune reported: "It's a sad day for our community," said Marc Blau, Tacoma sports historian. "When you think of how many people Clay touched, it's amazing. He had a hand in politics, sports, broadcasting, civic affairs, you name it. And while there might be somebody who didn't like him, I can't think of one."
Even though Huntington had been hospitalized a few times over the past seven weeks, his passing surprised his loved ones.
His son Ron was shocked because he said the last time he saw his dad he was sharp as a tack, but Huntington went into cardiac arrest while the doctors were running tests. He needed two pints of blood due to hemorrhaging.
The Huntington family brought great contributions to the Tacoma area. Clay was born in Vancouver BC but moved to Tacoma at 5 months old. His father was quite an influence as the first baseball park in Tacoma was his doing. It was constructed in 1910 and located at 12th and I streets.
In 1960, Huntington's work to get Cheney Stadium built brought the Pacific Coast League’s Phoenix Giants to the South Puget Sound.
“Not to say this in a bragging way,” Huntington said in a 1999 interview, “but I was instrumental in getting Cheney Stadium built – exactly 50 years after my grandfather helped put up a ballpark.”
He was such a friendly, warm, likable guy that he was able to get Henry Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Arnold Palmer, Joe Namath and Frank Leahy to attend state Sports Hall of Fame banquets as honored guests.
As a preteen Clay became interested in broadcasting which is documented in "Playground to the Pros: An Illustrated History of Sports in Tacoma-Pierce County." He practiced his skills sitting up in a tree doing play by plays of the kids playing below.