By Marcus Henderson
The visiting Sonoma Stompers semi-professional baseball team’s 16-0 win gave the San Quentin All-Stars a lesson in playing against pros. In addition, each team member saw the paths their life could have taken.
The Stompers first baseman, Daniel Baptista, pulled off a home run hat trick.
In the first inning, he smashed a homer over the Lower Yard right-field gate. In the third, he belted the ball over the left-field gate. Continuing to show his power, he wracked one over the center-field gate in the fourth.
“This is an experience you never forget,” said Baptista. “These guys are good competitors. You get to come here and see how some people got sucked into the street life.”
All-Star John Windham added, “I enjoyed the game. I got to see them do what I could have been doing, at their level and making the right choices.”
The Stompers took a quick 4-0 lead in the first.
Their quality pitchers Mike Jackson Jr., Greg Paulino and Jose Flores all threw in the ‘90s against the All-Stars.
Paulino came from the Dominican Republic and played in the minor leagues for the Oakland A’s. Jackson is the son of Mike Jackson Sr., who played 19 years in the majors and was a closer and relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants from 1992–1994.
“We came out to give the guys the competition they wanted,” said Jackson. “People shouldn’t worry about the stereotypes; get a feel for the people and enjoy the experience.”
All-Star Don Spence added, “I faced a major league pitcher. You see that type of pitching on TV all the time, but to be at the plate is amazing. It shows why they get the money they get to play; it’s no joke.”
Jeff “Deuy” Dumont, the All-Star pitcher, had a rougher outing; he hit three batters but struck out six.
The Stompers widened their lead 10-0 in the third with three doubles and two home runs. Mark Hurley hammered one over the left-field gate, right after Baptista.
“This was a special and eye-opening experience,” said Hurley. “These guys give us motivation. You have guys who have been down 20 or 30 years, and they’re not complaining; that’s life changing.”
Takashi “Yoshi” Miyoshi, the Stompers manager added, “We are honored to play here. I played all over the world, and this is a reminder for our players to have love for the game. Because playing on a professional level, it’s just about winning.”
Miyoshi is the first Japanese person to manage a professional baseball team in the U.S.
“My job is to prepare our talent for the majors,” said Miyoshi.
The All-Stars gave up three runs in the fourth and the sixth, ending any hopes of a comeback.
“We were short-handed,” said Isaiah Bonilla-Thompson, All-Stars assistant coach. “But what could you expect? We played professionals. We will live to fight another day.”
The May 28 game ended with the teams exchanging signed balls from each club.
“This game gives our guys perspective,” said Theo Fightmaster, Stompers General Manager. “A lot of people would like to be in their shoes. Last year’s game helped with our team chemistry, and this year we are looking for the same.
“It’s also a reminder that people here are real, live human beings.”
Stompers Cam Stimpson added, “I saw the CNN special before I came. It’s easy to lock people up, but a lot of these guys are following up with their rehabilitations. They are trying to turn their lives around, and that’s a good thing for society.”
Bob Padecky from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat came to witnesses the game.
He said what impressed him the most was that he asked a guy what’s so special about this field and the guy responded “I’m talking to you.”
“Then it hit me,” said Padecky. “We are just talking to people. This teaches you not to take life for granted or just don’t go stupid or you will be playing for the San Quentin A’s or Giants.”
By Marcus Henderson