Batter Up! Baseball Comes to Wine Country

     It’s not healthy to hold grudges, but I must admit that I hold one (okay, not counting my ex-wife, but that was a long time ago…).

     My grudge is against Major League Baseball. I have held it since August of 1994, when the players went on strike and stayed out long enough to wipe out the entire post-season.

     As a multi-time All-Star in the Harbor Area Baseball program in Orange County, Calif., as a 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-year-old… and someone who would have killed to make it to the big leagues… I could not understand how millionaires could turn their backs on America’s pastime. I vowed to never again attend a Major League Baseball game.

     And I have managed to almost keep that vow. On two occasions since that strike, I have relented and attended games with friends, one at Dodger Stadium and one at Wrigley Field. I am proud, however, to point out that I did not pay for either ticket.

     I should explain that I wasn’t turned off to baseball; I was turned off to spoiled athletes refusing to play a game for which they were being paid very, very comfortable salaries. When minimum-wage workers go on strike, I can understand it. When professional athletes go on strike, I go on strike against them.

     Since I still love the game I played as a kid, I get my baseball fix by going to minor league games and even the occasional youth game. A good friend of mine coaches a team of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, and they’re a blast to watch. These are young men who are playing for the love of the game, and in the case of minor leaguers, who are pursuing a dream and busting their butts.

     So you can imagine my delight when I heard about a new baseball league that was scheduled to make its debut this past Saturday. It’s called the Wine Country Old Fashioned Baseball League, and it consists of passionate players who reside in or near California’s North Coast wine country.

     There are three divisions:

     North – Cloverdale Bandits, Healdsburg Owls, Windsor Wonders and Santa Rosa Giants.

     South – Sebastopol Apples, Rohnert Park Dragons, Petaluma Pirates and Sonoma Crushers.

     Napa – St. Helena Angels, Oakville Aces, Yountville Robins and Napa Knights.

     Game tickets cost just $5 for adults and $2 for kids. Saturday’s season opener featured a triple-header, with the Apples taking on the Wonders, the Pirates seeking to slay the Dragons, and the Crushers meeting the Giants.

     And there is a wine tie-in besides the obvious geographic one: The league is sponsored by a winery – Leonhardt Vineyards.

     Action will take place throughout the summer and wind up in October, providing wine country residents and visitors with one more fun thing to do.

     You can check out the league’s schedule and learn more about its genesis by visiting

     I’m so happy about this new baseball league that it makes me want to sing…

     “Buy me some peanuts and Pinot Noir…”

Posted in Editor's Journal
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