Day 10: April 18, 1991

San Jose, CA

What I Remember

I remember an amazing story. The Salinas Spurs were one of a small handful of co-op/independent teams left on the minor league baseball map in 1991, but that was not what made the team notable. It was not its success on the field either, the Spurs finished the year at 55-81 – last in the Cal League’s northern division. But when we walked out on the field to get some shots before the game my eye was drawn to fence signs that seemed unusual for this rural California city. One of the signs was for the Bank of Tokyo, another was Asahi Beer.

The team, which featured ten Japanese players on the roster, a Japanese manager and a full-time interpreter had been purchased by Don Nomura, himself a former professional player in Japan. But the most remarkable part of the story was the chequered past of the field this team played on. Salinas Municipal Stadium, we were told in the front office, had served as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during the second world war and now its history had come full circle.

If Hollywood had written this story, the Spurs would have won the league title in front of thousands of adoring fans. Alas, they did not and after the team finished next to last in attendance, professional baseball left Salinas for good after the next season. Still, it was one of the most amazing stories in a season of amazing stories.

The Game

Stockton Ports 4 Salinas Spurs 1

The Box (Click on the arrows for more images)

Look closely at the box score or the Spurs’ roster and you will see the name of Todd Cruz who represented one of the oddities of independent teams. Cruz was 35 in 1991 and had already played parts of eight seasons in the majors before closing out his career that year with the Salinas Spurs.

The Trip

Salinas was our last stop camping along the beautiful beaches of California, this time at Sunset State Beach. We feasted on Artichokes for the next several days after buying 15 for a dollar in Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World.

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