Archive for January, 2010

We’ve all heard the phrase “the tools of ignorance” applied to catcher’s gear. But never has “fashion plate” been applied in describing a catcher’s attire, although in the case of this photo, “fashionable behind the plate” would be most applicable.

Johnny Plaid and Swingin' Sato in '74 (Photo Acamar)

It must have been difficult for Colt batter Mark Sato to keep his eye on this pitch while catcher John Perata’s neon plaid pants were undulating in the background. As the immortal baseball announcer Harry Caray was fond of saying, “Holy Cow!”

Actually, the suave Longfellow backstop was not alone in his bold “Pumas and Plaid” ensemble. Our mid-1970’s photo archive is loaded with other GQ statements being made on the diamonds of Alameda. (Just wait till you see our photo of Chris “The Alameda Rifle” Speier and Giants teammate John D’Aquisto in their sport jackets while attending one of the annual ARPD Baseball Awards Banquets. Somebody call the fashion police!)

Unfortunately, we don’t know the outcome of this PeeWee League duel held at Lincoln Park. However, we do know that this photo graced the cover of the weekly PlayBall! supplement on August 13, 1974. Mr. Perata was also featured in two additional center spread photos! I guess that would make John the first PlayBall! Batterymate centerfold.

Oh, behave!


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PlayBall! is sad to learn of the passing of one of our own. Curtell Motton, former park rat and outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, headed for home one last time on Thursday, January 21, following a yearlong battle with cancer.

Curt played on the Alameda sandlots with other legendary Encinal High School heroes, Willie Stargell and Tommy Harper. Motton would go on to play for the University of California at Berkeley and was signed by the Chicago Cubs in the 1961 amateur draft. The next year he was drafted by the O’s in whose organization Motton would spend the next nine years.

Called up to the Show in 1967, Curt would compete for playing time in the Birds all-star outfield consisting of Paul Blair, Don Buford, and future Hall Of Famer, Frank Robinson. He would also play for the Milwaukee Brewers and California Angels during his eight years in the majors (1967-74).

Motton’s best season was 1969 when he hit .303 during the regular schedule, and .500 in his first American League Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins. He would also appear in the World Series that same year against eventual World Champions… the Amazin’ Mets. Curt saw post season action again with Baltimore in 1971 and 1974, returning home in both to play against the Oakland A’s.

So long, Curt! Thanks for the memories.

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If you were a fan of the original PlayBall! print edition, a reader of the old Alameda Times Star (“Ten cents worth more”), or have become a dedicated follower of this blog, the names Bordanaro and Zarcone should be very familiar!

Ed Bordanaro and Don Zarcone ran a photography service out of their studio in San Leandro. They covered everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, from weddings to various park leagues, ladies social luncheons to kindergarten class photos. I don’t know how, but they seemed to be everywhere. The two pro shutterbugs are even credited for an image that graced the pages of Sports Illustrated back in 1957. Kevin Kearney, former park rat and now Alameda City Auditor, talks about Ed and Don during an interview segment that appeared in PlayBall! – Alameda’s Sandlot Saga.

Their studio, that once occupied 644 E. 14th Street, is now gone. Along with it are the many thousands of original photos taken over the years… or are they? If anyone has a clue to what happened to Don and Ed, or the master works of Bordanaro and Zarcone, please drop us a line at: playball94501@gmail.com

In the meantime, here’s one of their ads from the 1968 Bishop O’Dowd High School yearbook. Yeah, I know… O’Dowd… yuck! (Check out the tube socks. Wonder if they were purchased at the Super 88 Store?)

1968 Advertisement for Bordanaro and Zarcone Photography

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This photo, from a Midget League game in 1972, prominently features three individuals who’s names should be familiar to many who participated in the ARPD programs during the decade.

Photo: Bordanaro and Zarcone)

We had a number of contestants all trying to correctly identify our mystery mugs. No one person was able to come up with all three names, however, Tony Reid (Franklin), Gary Silverman (Godfrey) and John Canalin (Longfellow) have teamed up to put a name to each physique.

Charging down the first base line is Morris Bonadona of the Godfrey Gophers. Leaning for the throw is Jamie Hayame of the McKinley Bears. And preparing to make the call is stalwart ARPD umpire, Mike Benesh, who would go on to star as a backstop for the Encinal Jets. Few know that “Ben” was also an ice hockey player in the local rec leagues.

The two questions that remain are: 1) Did Mo beat the throw? (Hmm. Doubtful, unless jamie muffed the play.); 2) How will Tony, Gary and John share this week’s prize of one pair of athletic tube socks? (Suggestion: Tony gets them on Sunday/Monday. Jamie on Tuesday/Wednesday. John on Thursday/Friday. They get washed by Doris Sullivan down at Woodstock on Saturday.) Thanks to everyone who posted an entry.

This week’s Who Are We? Quiz was brought to you by Alameda’s emporium for unparalleled value and savings, the Super 88 Store.

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Park Director

John King holds the distinction of coaching three ARPD baseball championship teams in one season. During his assignment to Longfellow Park in 1972, the Tigers won the league crown in the PeeWee, Midget, and Little Coast divisions. John, with the help of his PD associate Doug Bertson, ascended to the throne as “King of all Managers” during that one amazing summer.

Tours of Duty: Longfellow (1972)

The King sports his RayBans along with Gabe Ponce and Gordon Smith

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Doing his best Willie Mays impression, Longfellow slugger Bruce Jones watches this one leave the yard.

Midget slugger Bruce Jones delivers (Photo: Acamar)

Not only did Jones contribute a two-run homer in the Tiger’s 6-1 victory over Krusi, he was also the game’s winning pitcher. While dealing to catcher Stan Smith, Bruce struck out six and walked four.

Scott Wesienbach was the lone Colt bat to find success against Jones, as he clubbed a double and triple during this Midget League tilt played on August 6, 1974.

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Leave it to the playground that didn’t have a baseball diamond or even a tree. Despite the fact that most putting greens have more blades of grass than were offered at this playground, it did have the one key ingredient… a few park rats. In fact, it had so few that it’s all-time player roster remains the smallest to date featured on PlayBall! Alameda’s Sandlot Blog. HOWEVER, it’s Mastick School Playground that provides us with Park Rat #2,000! This title of distinction goes to none other than… drumroll, please…

John Banks, 2nd baseman for the mighty Mastick Rams.

John Banks, Park Rat #2,000 and Bantam Leaguer, in 1975

John, just as you were doing in this photo, enjoy your moment in the sun because we’re already moving on our way to 3,000!

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