When my family moved from a bad part of south Salinas to the Sherwood Gardens area in 1992, my brothers and I looked for things to do only to get immediately bored.
We were all baseball fanatics, and when we realized we were a quick walk away from Salinas Municipal Stadium, we took advantage by going to a lot of the baseball games that took place at the ballpark.
At the time, the Salinas Spurs were the club that inhabited the field. They didn’t have any ties to any Major League Baseball team, so for a lot of the players, this was a chance to keep fresh or just have fun playing the game they had played for so many years.
I had so much fun going to Spurs games. The players weren’t heroes or larger-than-life figures. They provided afternoon or evening entertainment for a young guy who loved baseball. Sometimes, I would take a scorecard and try my best to keep score of the game.
Poking fun at the opposing team provided some moments of entertainment. One opposing player, who was an amazing slap hitter, got so upset at all of the heckling, he went on a profanity-laced tyrant and was ejected. He was never the same.
The hot dogs were your standard fare. The stands were worn and beaten. The park weather was typical Salinas (warm at first pitch, blustery and freezing by the third inning).
But I loved it.
My brothers loved it. When my dad and mom went, they loved it.
It was baseball. It wasn’t the Giants or Athletics, but it was baseball.
And there was a little bit of me that thought that, one day, a player from the Spurs I saw would make their way to the big show. Guys like Omar Vizquel, Steve Howe and Dave Burba came from the Spurs ranks.
The Spurs were soon gone, replaced by several different ball clubs that tried their best to recapture the love that they created.
When I heard Wednesday that the Warriors were considering moving the Dakota Wizards to Santa Cruz, I got really excited.
No, I am not a Warriors fan (or a fan of any NBA team). However, the opportunity the Wizards can create for Santa Cruz County is immense.
It is a positive in so many ways, but a couple stand out.
The first is that it’s another thing to do in Santa Cruz. I go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk often (come see me on the Dance Dance Revolution machine), but it does get repetitive. The Wizards would be another great form of entertainment.
The Wizards can be that team for young children the way the Spurs were for a lot of children in Salinas.
The Spurs had no ties to the majors in their finals years. The Wizards do now. This is a big plus.
Imagine you watched a minorleague team where you knew the players were a phone call away from going to the big time. That’s the Wizards. Families can go to basketball games, and parents can tell their children, “If that guy keeps working hard, he’ll play for the Warriors some day.”
The Wizards symbolize a lesson that parents can teach their children, that if they work hard, dreams are within reach. For the Wizards players, that dream is just 90 minutes north on Highways 17 and 880.
Glenn Cravens once caught a foul ball at Salinas Municipal Stadium. His commentary runs the first Saturday of every month. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/GlennAtTheRP.For the complete article see the 04-07-2012 issue.
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