On a perfect Saturday morning for America’s favorite pastime, San Quentin’s Field of Dreams wasn’t so gracious to its inmate All-Star team as the San Rafael Pacifics had three big-scoring innings in a 17-3 victory.
“Don’t let the score reflect the progress we’ve made as a prison baseball team,” said Giants head coach, Frankie Smith. “We represented a different side of incarcerated men than what the mainstream media portrays.”
Eight players from San Quentin A’s and eight from the San Quentin Giants made up the All-Star team roster.
“It was one of the best days I’ve had since incarcerated,” said A’s head coach John Parratt. “I feel my utility player, Nghiep K. Lam, represents what the A’s are all about.”
“I am thankful for the chance to play the game I love since childhood – baseball. I am proud to be one of the founding members of the San Quentin Athletics,” Lam said. “Since the formation of the team in 2011, we had these goals: have a great time and play as one unit. Winning is good too.”
The Pacifics is a professional baseball team is in its second season. It competes in a league consisting of a team in Vallejo, two teams in Hawaii, and four in Arizona. Last year the team went 36-24 and won the league championship.
Four members from that championship team returned to play this season. “That’s a good thing for our club,” said Operation Manager Hunter Harenstein. “That means we’re doing our job by sending players up to higher levels of play.”
The team’s home stadium is Albert Park in San Rafael, where half of this season’s 84 games will be played. “The Pacifics provide the local community with low-cost fun, in a family-friendly environment,” said team General Manager Mike Shapiro.
Shapiro said he was impressed by the turnout, adding, “Looks like we have a bunch of fans at San Quentin.”
About 300 prisoners jockeying for position shuffled around the Field of Dreams, wanting to get the best view of the game. As the spectators settled into place, they taunted and cheered players from both teams.
On-line radio station bggg101.com Boomerang broadcasted the game that Saturday night. “We’re scheduled to broadcast all the Pacific games,” said station owner David Winter.
Lt. Sam Robinson, San Quentin’s public information officer, threw out the first pitch.
Both pitcher tossed a shutout through four innings, during which the Pacifics only managed one hit off All-Star pitcher Jeff Dewey Dumont.
Pacifics starting pitcher, Logan Odom, played college ball at University of Southern California, was drafted by the Angels and played on their AA team. “It’s great to play baseball with a bunch of guys who just love the game,” he said.
Steve Detwiler of the Pacifics scored the first of six runs in the top of the fifth inning. “It was crazy — all those fans screaming as I rounded third. It was fun,” he said.
The next batter, infielder Darrick Hale, smacked a three-run homer.
Last season Hale batted .280 with five homers and 33 RBIs. “I’m just trying to be a team player,” he said. “I wanted to make contact with the ball. He left a fastball right down the middle, and it just happened to go.”
This is Hale’s second season with the Pacifics. A southern California boy, he played at Compton Junior College and California State Los Angeles. The Reds originally drafted him.
Chase Fontaine followed Hale with his own homers.
A native of Florida, Fontaine played minor league ball for the Braves, the Devil Rays, and Royals. “I feel blessed to come here and compete with you guys. Every credit goes to the Big Man upstairs.”
The San Quentin baseball players and spectators struck up conversations with the outside guests, including the Pacifics’ families, a cameraman from local television station KTVU, and bggg101.com radio Boomerang personalities.
“I used to play on a traveling baseball team, called The Travelers,” prisoner Antonio Manning 51, told station owner Winter. “Even though we’re getting smashed, it’s fun just to come out and watch a game.”
Harenstein said he feels honored to play against some men who seem to have turned their lives around. “I didn’t expect this,” he said. “You guys are completely different from what we see on TV.”
“I think Chris Deragon got a lot out of this game,” said Giant’s coach Smith.
“This game gave me an opportunity to be in a positive place,” said Deragon. “The best play of the game was when Colman made that play at second. That was top-notch ESPN stuff.” He added, “My fiancé had the chance to listen to this game, and that means a lot to me.”
Boomerang owner Winter commented, “We’ll also report on local high school sports and local musicians.” He said he’d like to include a talk show to discuss local topics, adding there is also a shopping network featuring local stores.
“The Pacifics are a very good and disciplined team,” said A’s coach Parratt. “I asked them, ‘If a guy’s a former prisoner, could they work for the organization?’ and they said yes.”
“There are a lot of compassionate people who come in prison to help us,” said Smith. “Whether incarcerated or free, we all have the love of baseball.”