Haggard tributes continue

Posted at 1:14 AM, Apr 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-09 11:09:21-04

The tributes are pouring in tonight, fans all around Bakersfield find their own way to honor the man who left us legendary music.

Many haggard fans are turning their sadness into an opportunity to carry on his legacy tonight.

From the roadrunner rainout at CSUB where they played his music, to the tribute from the stampede here at the Crystal Palace, Haggard fans everywhere continue to honor his name.

Despite today's rain CSUB baseball filled the air with some of Merle's biggest hits.

But what made the day even more special knowing Merle had roots at Cal State, something that made the tribute even more special said Corey Costelloe, CSUB’s Assistant Athletic Director for communications.

Merle was issued the honorary doctorate in 2013. So it really was just an opportunity to honor not only someone who gave so much to this community, meant so much to music, but also is a part of the CSU Bakersfield family. So we just thought it was right to play nothing but his music here tonight,” said Costelloe.

The original idea to play some of Haggard's iconic songs came from a coach at CSUB, but Brendon Ziegler, a coach at CSUB, said when a few of the players who grew up in Bakersfield heard about it, things quickly took off.

“Especially the guys from Bakersfield, you know they know the legend. They know what a part of the community he is and one of the seniors Nick Vehlewald said, you know we should change every single one of our walk up songs to Merle Haggard songs,” said Ziegler.

Maybe it was just the weather or maybe it was a sign from Merle, but tonight's game was postponed by the rain storms, giving some fans just enough time to make it over to the crystal palace where The Stampede was ready to give it up for a man that changed their lives.

“What he's done for me personally was just totally open up my whole musical career. I came out from Texas years ago and got to Bakersfield and got to be with a lot of the players that got to play with The Strangers and The Buckaroos,” said Stampede band member John Herrell.

But band members Max Valentino and Steven Davis said tonight's performance is a little harder for The Stampede, knowing that many icons like the hag had played on this stage -- saying it's an honor every time.

“I'll tell you every weekend when I go on this stage is a complete honor. I humble myself, I think that 'wow, I'm on this stage where these guys have stood,” said Valentino.

“It's going to be tough singing his songs tonight. It’s going to be real tough. It's a hard thing, it's a big loss for country music and Bakersfield. He was one of the founding fathers for country music in Bakersfield,” said Davis.

An icon he was, an icon he will forever be.