What I Remember
We drove back over the Sierra Nevada mountains into the Central Valley of California and the weather changed for the better. Our second minor league game in Stockton was everything the first was not, beginning with comfortable. There was a good crowd on hand, it was a lovely spring evening and the hometown Stockton Ports got the win. We also got to camp out, which was the plan for most nights, for the first time at a state park amid Almond and Olive groves.
Stockton Ports 5 Salinas Spurs 3
Billy Hebert Field was a modest park by today’s California League standards and the Ports opened a brand new stadium, Banner Island Ballpark in 2005. However, it was at this game where we really started to feel at home in the minors, I still remember the electronic scoreboard encouraging the Ports… “Come on Little Brew Crew, Swing those Bats!” Outfielder Troy o”Leary was on this team and, although he made it to Milwaukee two seasons later, it was with the Boston Red Sox that O’Leary collected most of his 1,100 major-league hits.
The Box: (Click on the arrows to see more images)
The Stockton Ports have been known as the Mudville 9 and lay claim to being the inspiration for the famous poem Casey at the Bat.
We shot some more frosty videotape near the Donner Pass but then descended back into California and baseball weather in John Steinbeck country.