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Archive for July, 2009

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarchone

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

Donny Ratto prepares to round third base at Krusi Park Diamond #3. Waiting for a throw that never arrives is third baseman Paul Hollis of the Rittler Wildcats. Ratto would score on this play adding another tally to what would eventually become a 9-5 Krusi win over Rittler in 1970 Little Coast League play.

Don, son of Bernie and Tina Ratto of Post Street, was perfect at the plate going 4-for-4 with THREE triples and 4 RBIs. This day was all Krusi. The Colts battery added four doubles with pitcher Gordon Olson ripping 3 of his own, and catcher Rick Cecconi hitting another off of Cat pitchers John Parachak and reliever Paul Hollis.

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Among the roll-call for former park rats who moved on to the professional ranks, Mario Mariani stands tall. The big man from the west-end towered above his fellow Washington Park rats, and then over his Encinal Jet teammates.

Mario Mariani - 1958 Encinal JV slugger

Mario Mariani - 1958 Encinal HS JV slugger

Mario enjoyed not only the ARPD baseball leagues, but also the flag football program. One of his park directors, Alameda High School gridiron star Dino Airale, would mentor Mariani on football and how to have fun. He must have provided valuable lessons as the ever smiling Mario would eventually play professional football in the Canadian Football League, battling for both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts (16-0) from 1966-67.

Park rat Mario Mariani still lives and works on the Garden Isle. Look for the big man with an even bigger smile as he makes his real estate agent rounds about town!

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In the weeks to come, PlayBall! – Alameda’s Sandlot Blog will chronicle many amazing pitching performances turned in over the years. Along with the shutouts and no-hitters you’ll also read about some of the less than stellar outings atop the hill. One such game occurred in late July 1970. Here’s the scoop…

When the Edison Indians traveled to Godfrey Park to meet the host Rodents in a Pee-Wee League showdown, they had no idea they were about to enter the ARPD record books. Steve Garrett took the mound for Godfrey and looked sharp against the Tribe striking out the side in the first two stanzas. His young counterpart, Ray Snider, was not as fortunate. Six burrowing mammals scored in his first two innings of work. But that’s when the tide turned.

Garrett would suddenly experience what can only be described as a Jekyll and Hyde performance over the next two innings. No fewer than fifteen runs would cross the plate as one Indian after another was issued a free pass. When Garrett did manage to record a “K”, his exhausted catcher, Karl Wilkenson, dropped a few third strikes allowing more of the indigenous ones to reach base and light up the overworked scoreboard. If that wasn’t enough, opposing catcher Marty Pere unloaded a blast with the sacks full, hanging a grand slam on the befuddled Garrett. Before Steve would end the fourth inning by recording his 17th strikeout, he would be charged with 22 base-on-balls and a pitch count of at least 129 tosses… likely more. This was as wild a boxscore as as anyone will ever see posted by a single hurler of record.

But wait. There’s more to this Hitchcock story.

As incredible as Steve Garrett’s numbers were, his opponent’s are even more unbelievable. Ray Snider would give up only three hits and record 11 fans of his own. Unfortunately, command was not always riding his wing. Snider would also walk a mind boggling total of 24 Godfrey Rodents before giving way to reliever Vincent Rodriguez in the sixth inning. Weary backstop Karl Wilkenson somehow managed to collect all three Godfrey hits, including a bases clearing double.

As incredible as it may sound, Steve Garrett would record the victory in this 17-15 display of how to play base-on-balls. Someone had to lose this game. On this day, poor Ray Snider would take one in the “L” column.

Both teams could have left their bats at home. In all, 46 base-on-balls were tallied, to go along with 40 strikeouts.

It should be noted that Rodent fireman, Pat Regan, came on to pitch two scoreless innings WITHOUT giving up a single free pass. He must have looked like Greg Maddux to whoever was fortunate enough to be assigned umpire duties for this most-tilted of tilts. After the game, the understated Godfrey coach Dave “Fireball” Owdom had this to say: “Walks were the story.” Right you are, Dave.

And that dear readers, is the rest of this story!

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Photo credit: Acamar

Photo credit: Acamar

Krusi Colt hitter Leland Low is captured in time demonstrating hip rotation to drive the ball off the tee. You can almost hear the “knock” as his wooden bat made contact with the “rubber hard” baseball (aka: an “indoor”).

Today you would hear a “ping” as the aluminum bat connects with the soft tee-ball baseball. I’ll take the knock over a ping any day. Instead of comparing the MLB players name on a bat, kids now base their pride of ownership on some graphic designer’s color scheme or a marketing tag line. 

Hmm. Would you rather swing a red “Terminator” or a Frank Robinson model Louisville Slugger hickory bat?

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Bill Westernoff

ARPD Park Director

Bill are you out there?

Tours of Duty: Longfellow

“Bill could fit a whole team of Pee Wee’s into his VW Bug.”

Ed Ramos

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Park Rat and ARPD Park Director

Okay, Roger… We know you read PlayBall! – Alameda’s Sandlot Blog. We’re waiting for some stories!

As a Woodstock Park rat, he was named to the 1963 Midget League All-Star Team.

Roger is married to another former PD, Adrienne Chaix. He led the 1975 Washington Pirate Midget squad to the title.

Tours of Duty: Washington (1974-75)

Photo credit: Acamar

Photo credit: Acamar

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ARPD Park Director

Our Dave Baldi file indicates that the former Encinal Jet athlete (baseball, tennis, cross country) started with the ARPD in 1969 following a two-year enlistment with the Alameda Boys Club. Dave graduated from Cal State Hayward with a degree in Sociology. 

Tours of Duty: Woodstock (1969), Washington (1970) 

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

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