NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL
CALIFORNIA BASEBALL HISTORY COLLEGE -- SEMI-PRO -- PROFESSIONAL
"But I must think, he thought. Because it is all I have left. That and baseball."
--Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribners. 1952. 1st edition. pg. 114.
"When baseball is no longer fun, its' no longer a game."
--DiMaggio, Joe. The Sporting News. Dec. 19, 1951.
northerncaliforniabaseball.com is an ongoing website, a work in progress, providing a blueprint or foundation and framework for a more extensive history of California baseball played in the northern part of the State. Unlike books, magazines, newspaper articles and other printed matter, the site has the flexibility to enable additions, changes, and corrections. A general overall history can be gained quickly at one site by navigating the highlighted buttons which will lead to stats, biographies, memorabilia, and commentary pertaining to college, semi-pro, and professional baseball that was played from the game's earliest beginnings. Some pages remain under construction until further information is obtained.
Baseball before World War ll was a different game and is represented as entertainment and a backdrop for the game's modern era. The home run was a rarity during the "Dead Ball Era" or between 1900 and 1919. Bats were long, thin, and heavy. The ballparks were mostly huge, often without outfield fences. By contrast, Recreation Park (ll) in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and home of the San Francisco Seals during the 1920's, was 311' down the left field line, 325' to center, and only 235 feet to right, although with a 50-foot tall wire fence. Baseballs, rarely replaced during a game, were often gouged, doctored with mud, sandpaper, vaseline, spit, tobacco juice, licorice, and other foreign substances. The strike zone was large and the fielders used those wee little eight-inch gloves. There were no designated hitters. High school and college teams played a small fraction of the schedules that they play today. There was no red-shirting and collegiate fall or winter leagues were a rarity.
Steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PED's) came into vogue and altered the game during the 1990's. It's been suggested and noted that up to fifty percent or more major and minor league players during this era had used PED's which created an un-level playing field and a disadvantage for those who were clean. PED's are still being used today as the "Dr. Frankenroids" stay one step ahead of the law by tweaking formulas and inventing new ways to chemically produce Überballplayers, or supermen.
Sources, or the content of NCB are mostly from the archives of public libraries, (digital or documented on microfilm), Newspapers.com, baseball-reference.com, college and university websites, Jay-Dell Mah's Western Canada Baseball, goodoldsandlotdays.com, and other published and printed matter including Official Baseball Annuals published by the National Baseball Congress. The contents of NCB are as accurate as a history can be, based on official publications and by others who were in a position to record such events. Some content is of the first-hand nature.
"It's been stated before that the most difficult task in all of sport is to strike a round hardball squarely and with authority using a rounded club, especially when the ball is traveling 90-plus miles per hour, all-the-while dipping, sinking, cutting or sailing; not to mention trying to hit a curveball, slider, splitter, spitter, knuckler, change-up, forkball, screwball or God only knows what else, and if that weren't enough, there's the fear factor, conscious or subconscious, of the brush-back, high-and-tight-one, or even the bean ball, whether intentional or not, that can bruise, brake a bone, or even kill you. Ah yes, baseball, the non-contact sport -- good for the soul but tough on the body"
--The Existential Ballplayer.
Fittingly, the greatest piece of artwork related to the game of baseball, or base ball as it was called before WWl, rests in San Francisco, arguably the birthplace of California baseball, although Sacramento could, and has staked a similar claim. Nevertheless, San Francisco dominated baseball in California during the game's initial beginnings and has continued to do so at the professional level in Northern California while the small towns of Eureka and Arcata have ruled the roost in semi-pro baseball with Cal Berkeley and Sacramento City leading the way at the collegiate level.
Douglas Tilden, hailed as the Michelangelo of the West, was born in Chico, California in 1860. Scarlet Fever left him a deaf mute at age five. Two years later he entered the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley, California and later attended UC Berkeley before leaving for Paris, France to study art. In 1889, while in France, Tilden created "The National Game", or "The Base Ball Player", recognized as the single most famous and classic baseball figure art piece of all time. The life-size plaster sculpture of a baseball pitcher toured art exhibitions in New York and San Francisco before William E. Brown of the Southern Pacific Railroad bought the statue and donated it to the city of San Francisco provided it be showcased at Golden Gate Park where it still stands today across from the Garfield Monument near the Conservatory of Flowers.
“After 19 years in the big leagues, 40 year old Billy Chapel has trudged to the mound for over 4,000 innings. But tonight, he’s pitching against time, he’s pitching against the future, against age, against ending. Tonight, he will make the fateful walk to the loneliest spot in the world, the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium, to push the sun back into the sky and give us one more day of summer.”
-- Vin Scully. For Love of the Game. The movie with Kevin Kostner as Billy Chapel.
"As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by how athletes respond under duress -- when the crowd’s screaming at the top of their lungs; when the game’s at stake; when the championship is on the line; when the count is full and the bags loaded in a game that’s all tied up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth -- that choice that someone makes that not only alters their own life but the careers and lives of others as well."
--The Existential Ballplayer
"I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us."
"Take a look at that Number Four there. A nicer guy never drew breath than that man there... Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last... Give me some scratching, diving, hungry ballplayers who came to kill you... That’s the kind of guy I want playing for me."
--Durocher, Leo. Nice Guys Finish Last. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1975. pp.14
HISTORY OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALL
player stats--baseball timeline--baseball history
"The Baseball Player"