THE 1974 SOLONS: BAND-BOX OR LILLIPUTIAN BASEBALL -- In 1961, the Sacramento Solons, then a franchise of the Milwaukee Brewers, packed their bags and relocated in Hawaii as the Islanders. Thirteen years later they returned to California, once again as the Sacramento Solons, but didn’t have a ballpark to play in. Edmonds Field, once at the corner of Riverside and Broadway had been torn down and replaced with a Gemco discount store, now a Target department store. In 1974, the Solons played their home games at tiny Hughes Stadium, a converted forty-nine-year-old football stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College. The left-field line was a mere 233 feet from home plate, about thirteen feet longer than a little league park, and it was only 300 feet down the right-field line, or the length of an adult softball field.
Pitchers appeared as little-leaguers or Lilliputians while batters slugged the ball around like a giant from a Jonathan Swift satire. Short pop-ups were home runs. The Solons hit 305 homers in 144 games or 2.12 long balls per game with five players hitting thirty or more home runs. Hometown Sacramento product Bill McNulty hit a franchise-record fifty-five homers with a .690 slugging percentage. Gorman Thomas hit 51 taters with a .656 SLG while Sixto Lezcano hit thirty-four with a .602 slugging percentage. Tommy Reynolds added thirty-two homers while Stephen McCartney also chipped in with thirty-two. The Solon pitching staff gave up an average of 6.70 earned runs per game and pitcher Gary Cavello’s career came to a sudden halt when he allowed forty homers in just 116 innings with an ERA of 9.16.
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon was hired to manage the '74 Solons. Lemon, from San Bernardino, Ca., had won 207 games while losing 128 (.618 win %) with a 3.23 ERA over the course of 13 years spent with the Cleveland Indians. He was a 20-game winner 7 times. Lemon tossed a no-hitter in 1948 and led the World Series champion and pennant-winning 97-58 Indians with his 2 WS victories including a 4-1 win over Warren Spahn while teaming up with fellow Hall-o-Famer Bob Feller in Cleveland's championship vs the National League's Boston Braves. His best season was 1954 when he went 23-7 with a 2.72 ERA. Lemon led the American League in complete games 5 times, innings pitched 4 times, wins three times, and in 1950, he led the AL in strikeouts with 170. He also had a career .232 batting avg. with 37 home runs, 2nd most by any major league pitcher. Lemon moved on to manage in the major leagues for 8 years including taking over for Billy Martin in 1978 and leading the Yankees to a World Series championship. His tenure with Sacramento lasted one year as the 66-78 Solons finished in last place of the PCL's West Division. After two more dismal seasons, the Solons were leased to San Jose where they became the Missions for 2 years before being sold and moving to Utah. In the year 2000, PCL baseball returned to the Capital city when the Vancouver Mounties were sold and became the Sacramento River Cats.
SACRAMENTO'S BEST DURING THE EARLY 50'S (Minor Leagues)
PLAYER CAREER YRS SLG
MASCARO, FRANK .321
AGOSTA, TOM .318
WRIGHT, BILL .315
STATHOS, GUS .298
WESTLAKE, JIM .280
PETRALLI, GENE .273
MYERS, RICHIE .261
KANELOS. SAM .266
BARRAGAN, CUNO .246
McNAMARA, JOHN .238
McNAMARA. JIM .220
It's somewhat of a given that baseball legends own their own bars and restaurants. Babe Ruth owned his own tavern. His dad died in a barroom brawl that spilled out into the streets in front of his own saloon. Joe DiMaggio owned DiMaggio's Grotto at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Don Drysdale owned Drysdale's in Hawaii that was operated by his wife Ginger. Mickey Mantle owned a bowling alley where the bar was the main attraction. Billy Martin had his own joint so he wouldn't have to travel to get into a bar fight. Even the mild-mannered Stan Musial owned a steakhouse in St. Louis. Joe Marty was no exception. He opened Joe Marty's on J Street in 1938 before moving the Bar & Grill to 1500 Broadway in 1954, just a few blocks away from Edmond's Field, where the Solons played. The specialty of the house was broasted chicken and a cool glass of Schlitz, but the pizza joint's hallmark was the wall located in the bar area that was jam-packed with baseball memorabilia that Marty had collected during his professional baseball career -- old masks, mitts, gloves, bats, team pictures and signed photographs. A kitchen fire gutted the insides of the building, including some of the mementos, however, most of the memorabilia was later sold off by Joe's heirs.
Joe Marty was born in Sacramento, California and attended Christian Brothers High School before playing center field for St. Mary's College in 1932 and '33. He signed a pro contract at age 20 with the AA San Francisco Seals where he hit .275 and .287 respectively, while sharing the outfield with Joe DiMaggio in 1934 and 1935. In 1936, after "Joltin' Joe" left for the Yankees, Marty led the Seals and the Pacific Coast League in hitting (min. 250 ab's) with his .359 average. He also led the PCL in slugging % (.573) and his 49 doubles and 14 triples were both 3rd best in the league. The results led to a career in the majors with the Cubs and Phillies where he combined to average .261 over the course of five years. In 1937, at age 23, he hit .290 as a rookie with the Cubs. In the 1938 World Series, when the Yankees swept the Cubs in four games, Marty hit .500 (6-12) and drove in five of the Cubbies nine total runs.
During WWll, sergeant Joe Marty served as playing-manager for the Mather Field Flyers, a team that also included Sacramento's Tony Freitas and New York Yankee Myril Hoag from Davis, Calif. After the war, Marty returned to Sacramento where he led the 1946 Solons with his team-best .307 average. The following year, he hit .327 for the AAA Solons and led the team in RBI's (95) and SLG (.523). In 1949, he led the Solons in batting again (.327), SLG (.505), and RBI's (112, 2nd best in the PCL). In 1950, Marty hit .309, spending half the season as the Solon's playing-manager. He hit .286 in 1951 and closed out his baseball career at age 38 by hitting .237 when the Solons were granted "Open" status (better than AAA but not major league).
Facundo "Cuno" Barragan was born in Sacramento, California, grew up at 13th and Q St. and spent nine seasons as a professional catcher including parts of two seasons (1961, '62) and one at-bat (1963) with the Chicago Cubs. He hit his1st and only major league home run in his very 1st at-bat as a Cub. Barragan attended Sacramento Junior College in 1952 and led the Panthers in hitting with his .409 batting average. Later that summer he hit .333 for the Glen County Cardinals of the semi-pro Sacramento Valley League and also played for Rio Vista of the Sacramento County League. After his professional career, Barragan managed Rainbow Bread to a 1966 County League title and later managed La Fiesta of the same league. In 1953, "Cuno" signed a contract with the Sacramento Solons and was optioned to the Idaho Falls Russets of the level-C Pioneer League where he hit .269 as a rookie. After serving in the Navy during the Korean Conflict, Barragan returned to hit .257 with 10 HRs for the Amarillo Gold Sox of the level-A Western League.
EARLY POST WWll BASEBALL -- Some of Northern California's best ballplayers of the early post-WWll era hailed from Sacramento -- South Sacramento in particular. Near the entrance to Old Ironsides Bar and Restaurant in downtown Sacramento hangs an enlarged photograph of the 1947 Sacramento Solons Rookies baseball team, all teenagers and winners of the 1947 Sacramento Winter Baseball League -- Vince Pisani, Jim Westlake, Jim McNamara, Frank Mascaro, Ted Williams (no relation to the Hall of Famer), Dick Markham, Gordon Jones, Gene Roenspie, Rudy Rodoni, Ritchie Myers, Sam Kanelos, Russ Grove, Nick Smyrni, Harry Renfree, Elmer Congdon, Joey Dodge and Bill Avila. Kanelos, who now owns Old Ironsides, and several other Rookies' teammates moved on to sign professional contracts and play for the Sacramento Solons.
The McNamaras, the Westlakes, and Frank Mascaro grew up on Fruitridge Road between Franklin Boulevard and 24th street. Sam Kanelos, Richie Meyers, and Gene Roenspie all attended Elk Grove High School. Kanelos was barred from playing his senior year as he was also a member of the semi-pro Carmichael Firemen. In 1946, the Firemen reached the finals of the National Baseball Congress semi-pro World Series held annually in Wichita, Kansas. These South-Sacers grew up together and competed against each other on makeshift sandlot diamonds in the open fields that surrounded the sparsely populated area of South Sacramento. They all signed professional contracts and all but one suited up with the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento Solons at one time or another. All of these ballplayers from South Sacramento climbed Jacob’s Ladder of pro baseball reaching up for the big leagues. Two players made it to the top, although for only one at-bat without getting a hit.
A couple of these Sacramento Southsiders became famous. Jim McNamara’s younger brother John skippered the Boston Red Sox to the 1986 American League pennant and was one out away from winning a World Series. He was named the American League’s manager of the year. "Mac" managed in the major leagues for 19 years with seven different teams beginning in 1969 with the Oakland A's and ending in 1996 with the California Angles. He compiled a .485 winning % (1160-1233). As a player, McNamara spent 14 seasons as a professional backstop where he combined to hit .238 with seven home runs, mostly with the level-B Lewiston Broncs of the Northwest League. His best season was 1962 when he hit .274 as playing/manager for the Broncs.
Jim Westlake’s older brother Wally played left field and third base in the Major Leagues for 10 years with a career batting average of .271 with 127 HR's and was a National League All-Star in 1951. The Westlakes were from Gridley, California and moved to Sacramento when Wally was six years old. He attended Christian Brothers High School before signing a professional baseball contract as an amateur free agent with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940. After WWll, Westlake hit .315 in 136 games for the triple A Oakland Oaks under the guidance of legendary manager Casey Stengel. The next season, 1947, he made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .273 with 17 home runs. He hit .282 with a .569 SLG for the Pirates in 1951 and .330 in 73 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1953.
It would be difficult to find a Northern California ballplayer who played on more championship teams than Jim Westlake. Oroville's Gary Nolan was a champion seven times (three American Legion titles, three high school titles, and two as a member of the Cincinnati Reds). Jim Westlake won titles in the Sacramento Winter League (Sacramento Rookies, 1947) in high school with McClatchy (1948), professionally with the Yakima Bears in 1950, with the Alameda Coast Guard in 1953, five titles while with the semi-pro Placerville Outlaws of the Placer-Nevada League (1961 to '64, and '66), and one title with the Gold Nuggets of the Mexican-American League in 1970. Westlake spent nine seasons as a professional beginning in 1948 at age 17 when he hit .296 for the Salt Lake City Bees of the level-C Pioneer League. The next year he hit .344 in 113 games for Salt Lake and .215 in 40 games for the AAA San Francisco Seals. In 1950, he hit .308 in 13 games for the Seals and .291 for the level-B Yakima Bears. After spending 1951-'53 with the Alameda Coast Guard, Westlake returned to San Francisco where he hit .285 for the Seals (Open level) in 142 games. In 1955, Westlake got into one game and went 0-1 for the Philadelphia Phillies before returning to the minor leagues for the rest of his pro career. He combined to hit .280 with 39 HR's during his 10-year career including .285 and .266 for the 1957 and '58 Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League.
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SACRAMENTO BASEBALL HISTORY
At age 19, right fielder Frank Mascaro reported to the AAA Sacramento Solons where he walked three times and homered in seven plate appearances before heading back to San Bernardino where he hit .319 with a .511 SLG. In 1950, Mascaro joined former teammate Jim Westlake at Yakima where he led the Bears in hitting (.348) and slugging % (.513). Mascaro was optioned to the San Francisco Seals and after serving two years in Korea, returned in 1953 and was sent to the level-A Vancouver Capilanos of the Western International League where he became a fan favorite of the local Canadians and named "Moose" Mascaro. His 10 triples led the team and .290 average was 2nd best to playing/manager Harvey Storey's .343. Storey, from San Francisco, led the Pacific Coast League in hitting (.326) in 1946. The "Moose" averaged .321 during his four years in the minor leagues with a .464 SLG, both tops among Sacramento hopefuls during the late '40s and early '50s. He spent the 1954 season with the Brandon Greys of the Independent, Manitoba-North Dakota or ManDak League where he hit .317, drove in 60 runs (league's 3rd best) and collected 90 hits (league's 2nd best). His six triples were the league's 3rd best as was his .461 SLG, topped only by ex-major leaguers Roy "Stormy" Weatherly and Lloyd Gearhart.
While Bob Forsch was leading Hiram Johnson High School of Sacramento to a Metro League championship in 1968 with his 5-1 record and 0.21 ERA, older brother Ken was setting records at Oregon State University. Both would move on to stellar careers and pitch no-hitters in the major leagues, the only brothers duo ever to do so. See biographies >>>
McClatchy High School won the Sacramento City baseball championship in 1948 under the guidance of head coach Cliff Perry. The Lions were led by the pitching of Roger Osenbaugh and the power-hitting of outfielder Frank Mascaro and first baseman Jim Westlake. Osenbaugh pitched for Stanford University before spending seven years with the Sacramento Solons where he compiled a career record of 46-66 with a 4.19 ERA. Mascaro was named to Sacramento’s All-City team for the second year in a row and led the ’48 McClatchy Lions in hitting with his .462 average. Mascaro became the property of the Sacramento Solons shortly after graduating from high school and was promptly sent to the Anaheim/San Bernardino Valencias of the level-C Sunset League where he hit .354. The eighteen-year-old’s .354 batting average was fifth-best in the Sunset League which included the El Centro Imperials, Las Vegas Wranglers, Mexicali Aguilas, Reno Silver Sox, and the Riverside Rubes. Sacramento’s 19-year-old shortstop Jim McNamara also played for the Valencias as did Solon Rookies teammates Russ Grove and Gene Roenspie. McNamara hit .217, Grove .255, and Roenspie was 15-17 with a 5.42 ERA.
Richie Meyers, although only 5'6" and 150 pounds, was a hard-throwing pitcher/shortstop at Elk Grove High School. In 1947, he tossed a no-hitter for the Thundering Herd in the finals of the Sacrament County League only to be bested 1-0 by the Lincoln Zebras and Fred Besana's no-hit shutout. Besana went on to a stellar pro career and pitched briefly with the Baltimore Orioles. Myers signed a contract with Sacramento of the PCL and pitched 17 innings for the Solons in 1948 going 0-3 with 8.47 ERA. He then became solely a shortstop and hit .301 with 18 homers, 17 triples, and 32 doubles with a .512 SLG for the level-B Wenatchee Chiefs (Washington St.) of the Western International League. Meyers became the Solons' starting shortstop from 1952-1955 and hit .303 during the '54 campaign in 76 games. All total, Meyers spent nine seasons as a professional with a career .261 batting average with 45 home runs. In 1956, he got into four games with the Chicago Cubs, mostly as a pinch-runner, and grounded out to shortstop in his only major league at-bat.
YR TEAM LEAGUE RESULTS
1974--SOLONS PAC. COAST 66-78
1975--SOLONS PAC. COAST 59-85
1976--SOLONS PAC. COAST 71-72
1977-1999 NO TEAMS
AAA PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
2000--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 90-54*
2001--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 75-69*
2002--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 66-78
2003--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 92-52**
2004--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 79-65*
2005--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 80-64*
2006--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 78-66
2007--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 84-60***
2008--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 83-61***
2009--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 86-57*
2010--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 79-65*
2011--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 88-56*
2012--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 86-58*
2013--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 79-65
2014--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 79-65
2015--RIVER CATS PAC. COAST 71-73
* denotes Pacific Division title
** denotes Pacific Coast title
*** denotes AAA championship
Second baseman Sam Kanelos combined to average .266 during his five seasons in the minor leagues, including parts of two seasons with the AAA Sacramento Solons where he hit .286 in 1950 and .162 in 1951. He also hit .303 that same year while with the Tri-City Braves of the level-B Western International League. The following year, 1952, Kanelos hit .294 with 10 triples for the Spokane Indians of the level-A WINT and a year later, hit .267 with 11 HR's, eight triples, and 32 doubles with a .415 SLG for the WINT's Edmonton Eskimos. He ended his pro career at age 23 back at Tri-City with a .258 average.
one out from winning it all
CALIFORNIA BASEBALL HISTORY NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BASEBALLL
YR TEAM LEAGUE RECORD
1885--UNIONS CALIF. ST
1886--ATLAS CALIF. 17-14
1887--ATLAS CALIF. 19-19
1890--SENATORS CALIF. 79-58
1891--SENATORS CALIF. 17-23
1893--SENATORS CALIF. 8-14
1994-1997 NO TEAMS
1898--GILT EDGE CALIF.** 49-27
1899--GILT EDGE CALIF. (E)**
1900--GILT EDGE CALIF.** 50-35
1902--GILT EDGE CALIF.
1903--SENATORS PAC COAST 105-105
1904--NO TEAM-MOVED TO TACOMA, WA.
1906--CORDOVAS CALIF. ST. (IND)
1907--CORDOVAS CALIF. ST. (IND)
1908--SENATORS CALIF. ST. (IND)
CLASS A PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
1909--SENATORS PAC COAST 97-107
1910--SENATORS PAC COAST 83-128
1911--SENATORS PAC COAST 95-109
CLASS AA PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
1912--SENATORS PAC COAST 73-121
1913--SENATORS PAC COAST 103-94
1918--SENATORS PAC COAST 48-48
1919--SENATORS PAC COAST 85-83
1920--SENATORS PAC COAST 89-109
1921--SENATORS PAC COAST 105-80
1922--SENATORS PAC COAST 76-124
1923--SENATORS PAC COAST 112-87
1924--SENATORS PAC COAST 88-112
1925--SENATORS PAC COAST 82-119
1926--SENATORS PAC COAST 99-102
1927--SENATORS PAC COAST 100-95
1928--SENATORS PAC COAST 112-79
1929--SENATORS PAC COAST 85-117
1930--SENATORS PAC COAST 102-96
1931--SENATORS PAC COAST 86-101
1932--SENATORS PAC COAST 101-88
1933--SENATORS PAC COAST 96-85
1934--SENATORS PAC COAST 79-109
1935--SENATORS PAC COAST 75-100
1936--SOLONS PAC COAST 65-111 1937--SOLONS PAC COAST* 102-76
1938--SOLONS PAC COAST** 95-82
1939--SOLONS PAC COAST** 88-88
1940--SOLONS PAC COAST 90-88
1941--SOLONS PAC COAST 102-75
1942--SOLONS PAC COAST* 105-73
1943--SOLONS PAC COAST 41-114
1944--SOLONS PAC COAST 76-93
1945--SOLONS PAC COAST 95-85
CLASS AAA PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
1946--SOLONS PAC COAST 94-92
1947--SOLONS PAC COAST 83-103
1948--SOLONS PAC COAST 75-113
1949--SOLONS PAC COAST 102-85
1950--SOLONS PAC COAST 81-119
1951--SOLONS PAC COAST 75-92
OPEN STATUS PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
1952--SOLONS PAC COAST 66-114
1953--SOLONS PAC COAST 75-105
1954--SOLONS PAC COAST 73-94
1955--SOLONS PAC COAST 76-96
1956--SOLONS PAC COAST 84-84
1957--SOLONS PAC COAST 63-105
CLASS AAA PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
1958--SOLONS PAC COAST 71-83
1959--SOLONS PAC COAST 78-76
1960--SOLONS PAC COAST 73-81
1961--1973 NO TEAMS
1974--SOLONS AAA PAC COAST 66-78
1975--SOLONS PAC COAST 63-81
1976--SOLONS PAC COAST 63-80
1977--1999 NO TEAMS
SACRAMENTO BASEBALL: In his book The Golden Game--The Story of California Baseball, author Kevin Nelson states that the Sacramento Base Ball Club became California's first active ball club when the team was established during the latter months of 1859 while the San Francisco Base Ball Club was formed a few days later. On February 22, 1860, the first organized base ball game in California took place between the San Francisco Base Ball Club and another local team, the Red Rovers. Later that same day, the Sacramento Base Ball Club battled the local Unions, also from Sacramento, to a 33-33 standoff. The first tournament in California took place when the Eagles from San Francisco ventured east to face the Sacramento Base Ball Club in a best-of-three championship series. In a rout, the Eagles took home the silver trophy and $350 in prize money.
During the early 1880s, they were known as the Peruvian Bitters, a semi-pro team named after an alcoholic tonic, before becoming the Atlas in 1884, named after a racehorse with reference to Alta or Northern California. In 1886, the Atlas became Sacramento's 1st professional base ball team when they joined the California League and finished 2nd with a 17-14 record. Other members included Oakland's Greenhood and Morans and three teams from San Francisco--the Pioneers, Waverlys, and Stars. In 1888, the Atlas returned to the semi-pro circuit before rejoining the professional California League in 1889. They played as the Senators in 1890, '91, and '93 after winning three consecutive California League titles (1898-1900) as the Sacramento Gilt Edge sponsored by Ruhstaller's Brewery. The champion 1898 Edge (49-27) was led by Charlie "Demon" Doyle's 10-5 record. A year later he led Sacramento to their 2nd California League title with his 28-11 mark while teammate Ervin Harvey was the league's top hitter at .350. In 1900, the Gilt Edge's three-peat title team was led by Sacramento native Joe Hughes and his 23-9 record. Hughes spent four seasons in the major leagues (1898-1902) where he posted a career 3.00 ERA and 83-40 record including a no-hitter while pitching for the 1898 Baltimore Orioles. His five shutouts were the league's 3rd best. The following year he led the National League in winning % (.824) and victories with his 28-6 mark while pitching for the Brooklyn Superbas, later becoming the Dodgers.
In 1903, the Sacramento Senators, also known as the Blues because of their uniform color, became a charter member of the newly formed Pacific Coast League along with the Oakland Oaks, San Francisco Seals, Los Angeles Angels, Portland Browns, and Seattle Siwashes. The Angles won the inaugural championship while Sacramento finished 2nd, 27.5 games back with their 105-105 record. Sacramento's Truck Egan hit .326 and led the PCL with his 13 home runs while Senator pitcher Tom Thomas finished the season at 27-11. Although the Senators finished 2nd in the PCL in 1913, '21, '23, and '28 including a 2nd half split season title in 1928, it would take 38 years and a name change before Sacramento finally finished atop the PCL standings with their 105-73 record in 1937. They became the Solons in 1936 in reference to the great Grecian lawmaker Solon. There would be no championship as the Solons fell in the 1st round of the play-offs to San Diego. In 1938 and 1939, the Senators won post-season honors however no championship was awarded as the Governor's Cup in those years were determined by pennant winners.
Playing/manager Pepper Martin's 1942 Solons capped Sacramento's five greatest years of the 20th century when the Solons won the PCL pennant with their 105-75 record and capped five successful PCL seasons in a row. The 105 wins are the most ever by any Sacramento team. Blix Donnelly went 21-10 with a 2.83 ERA. Averett Thompson led the team in hitting at .314 while Buster Adams hit .309 with 27 homers. Catcher Ray "Iron Man" Mueller hit .297 and was named the PCL's MVP. Lefty Tony Freitas logged his 5th straight season as a 20-game winner with his 24-13 record and 2.93 ERA. Freitas pitched five years in the major leagues (1932-'36) compiling a career 25-33 record and 4.48 ERA. His best season was his rookie year, 1932, when he posted a 12-5 record and 3.83 ERA for the 2nd place Philadelphia Athletics. He spent a total of 23 years in professional baseball with a record of 373-276 (.575 win %) including parts of 11 years with Sacramento (1937-'42 at the AA level and 1946-'50 at the AAA level).
In 1946, the Carmichael Firemen defeated Wolf & Royer of Roseville 5-4 and became the only team from the Sacramento area to advance to the National Baseball Congress semi-pro World Series held annually in Wichita, Kansas. The Firemen finished as runners-up with their 6-2 record (best by any team from Northern Calif.) in the prestigious 32-team National tournament. Pitcher Les Lollis was named tournament MVP with his 4-0 record and .417 batting average.
THE FIFTIES--John Spalding in Sacramento Senators and Solons: Baseball in California's Capital, 1886 to 1976, describes the Solons during the 1950s as "bottom feeders". For the decade, the team only mustered one 4th place finish while finishing next to last three times and dead last four times. In 1960, they packed their bags and moved to Hawaii. There was, however, one lone bright spot during the decade -- the Solon's feisty, pepper-pot center fielder Joe Marty.
THE SIXTIES-- In 1960, Club Bob-Les (aka Sacramento Stars), won the Tri-County League, thus receiving an automatic bid in the 20-team Western National Baseball Congress qualifying tournament held at Atwater, Ca. There, the tavern team located on Del Paso Blvd. and managed by Al Simas won five consecutive games earning a berth in the California NBC semi-pro State tournament. A title there would mean a trip to Wichita, Kansas, home of the NBC World Series of semi-pro baseball. At Atwater, the Bob-Les Club bested the Merced Pepsis 7-3, the Fort Ord Warriors 15-3, the Fresno Bulldogs 12-0, Oakland 11-0 and Fresno Police 4-3. They scored 49 runs while only allowing nine. Bob-Les pitcher Ralph Schwamb tossed both shutouts and also picked up the win in the final. Ralph "Blackie" Schwamb from Los Angeles, California had previously pitched in the major leagues. In 1948, he pitched in 12 games (31 innings) for the St. Louis Browns winning 1 of 2 games with an 8.53 ERA. He also spent four years in the minor leagues ('47-'49 and 1961) where he combined to win 12 games while losing 14 with a career 3.68 ERA. In 1947, he went 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA for the Aberdeen Pheasants of the level-C Northern League. Besides Schwamb, Club Bob-Les fielded several other players with pro experience. #2 pitcher Ralph Rose had a 2-2 record and 7.73 ERA with Salem and Lewiston of the "C" Northwest league. Catcher Ron Lacey hit .239 during his 3 years at the D, C, and B levels. Forty-three-year-old Al "Spider" Zutz, played 11 games in the PCL with Sacramento and Oakland, however, didn't get a hit in 11 at-bats. He hit .213 for the Visalia Cubs of the "C' California League in 1946. During the season, Bob-Les played some of Northern California's top semi-pro clubs including a split with the powerful Humboldt Crabs, winning the 1st game 8-3 and Schwamb losing the nightcap 5-1.
Club Bob-Les was allowed to compete in the Western tournament but not in the NBC California State Tournament ... that is, not if "Blackie" was on the team. Schwamb was an alcoholic, a pool shark, and a drinking buddy of Billy Martin. He was a ballplayer with a blazing fastball by day and a gangster at night. In 1950, Schwamb, then a 6'5" thug for the notorious L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen, was convicted of murder and issued a life sentence. Schwamb spent 10 years in prison where he pitched, all home games, for the San Quentin All-Stars and the Represa Eagles (Folsom Prison team). If prison records can be trusted, Schwamb won 131 games and lost 35 with 1,565 strikeouts including three no-hitters against some of the top teams from Northern California, some of which were from the Sacramento Rural and Tri-County Leagues. One of his no-nos was against Woody Held's 1955 Carmichael Firemen. During Schwamb's 1st year at San Quentin, he posted an 11-3 record with 184 K's in 135 innings with a 2.50 ERA which included wins over the Oakland Holly Packers and New Pisa, two teams that were favored to win the Nor-Cal State semi-pro tournament. "Blackie" became known as the greatest prison player of all-time, or the greatest pitcher that never was. He joined the Bob-Les team shortly after getting out of prison and led them to a County League title. Club Bob-Les would compete no further as long as a murderer was on the team. Hatzell Radio of El Cerrito won the State tournament. Schwamb's baseball career ended in 1961 after an 11-year absence. He won 1 of 3 games with a 5.14 ERA for Tommy Heath's Hawaii Islanders of the AAA Pacific Coast League before getting released. Sacramento's Bud Watkins took his spot on the Islanders' roster and recommended "Blackie" for his vacated position on the Lincoln Potters of the semi-pro Placer-Nevada League. After appearing in a few games, "Blackie" went on a binge and became AWOL. Watkins fared no better going 1-5 with a 5.84 ERA for the 6th place Islanders.
1960 BOB-LES CLUB
AL SIMAS, MGR.
RON LACEY, C
RALPH ROSE, 1B
NORM BLACKWELL, 2B
PETE GONSALVES, 3B
JIM LONG, SS
LEROY MOLDEN, INF
TERRY CUMMINGS, OF
BOB SHANKS, OF
DICK MOLER, OF
AL ZUTZ UTL
RALPH SCHWAMB, P
JOHN BLACKWELL, PCHARLES DAVS
AL'S CLOTHIERS, '40