The San Quentin A’s baseball team spilt a double header with the visiting Club Mexico who traveled from Stockton to do battle for its third year.
Club Mexico dominated the first game winning 10-5, but the A’s smoked Club Mexico in the late afternoon contest 6-1.
Club Mexico’s center-fielder Gino Ballardo started the first game by smashing a blazing homerun over the left field gate. Ballardo jog leisurely around the bases to let the A’s know they came to play.
“I was just thinking I must really love baseball to be standing in the middle of a prison field, when anything can happen,” said Ballardo, who visited San Quentin for the second time.
“Really baseball helps you relax, to be a kid again and you can get away from everything for a couple of hours.”
Club Mexico plays in the California Mexican Baseball League in Stockton. The league is very family orientated and made-up of second- and third-generation players. Club Mexico is the last original team of the league that was formed in 1955 by Mexican-American field workers in response to racism from other leagues. The league has expanded to include a variety of different people who love the game.
Joe “The Magician” Elias, Club Mexico coach, has turn his trips to the prison to a teaching tool for the young players in his league and those inside the prison.
“Anybody can be on this side of the wall by accident or on purpose,” said Elias. “I grow up in the hood and seen guys come in-and-out of prison. So I try to bring guys in here (San Quentin) who are on the fence in their lives.
“If you learn this game it will give you structure and teach you how to work as a team. So when you get out and get a job you can work as team even when you don’t like everybody,” added Elias.
Club Mexico dominated through superb pitching and taking advantage of the A’s mistakes on defense. The A’s dropped balls, overthrew bases and failed to turn doubles extending the innings for Club Mexico to add runs.
“We had to many mental errors and you can’t do that with a team of their caliber,” said Terry Burton, A’s inmate coach. “The one who makes the least mistakes wins the game.”
Club Mexico played the second game a little sluggish, while the A’s limited their mistakes and turned better defensive plays. The A’s ran the bases aggressively, keeping Club Mexico on their toes.
The A’s showed that they have the talent to compete and have a short memory when it comes to losses.
“These guys can ball-up. They exceeded my expectation,” said Dave Martinez, Club Mexico pitcher. “It was a great experience. We all enjoyed a great game in a difficult place.”
The A’s Zach Moore added, “We have a strong team. We can put up the runs. We just have to work on the defense. I came to prison at age 15, (now in his 30s) what I learn over time and from this program is how to take instructions.”