Inmate Curtis Charles took a trip to Candlestick Park to engage in batting practice with the San Francisco Giants. On the way over, he stopped off at television station KRON for a brief interview, which was videotaped and later telecast on Channel 4. Curt was chaperoned by coaches Mike Ferretti and T.L. Baker.
Curt was greeted by numerous reporters and spectators when he arrived at Candlestick Park. He then proceeded to the Giants locker room, where they had set up a special locker for him. He suited up in Gary Alexander’s old No. 42 uniform and headed for the diamond.
On his way, players Jack Clark and Darell Evans wished him well.
Curt warmed up with catcher Mike Sadek. Batting Coach Hank Sauer told him he would follow Willie McCovey in the batting cage. Jim Davenport was the batting-practice pitcher.
Curt said, “When I first went up to bat, I was a little nervous, but after a while the butterflies disappeared. I started hitting line drives and several shots up the middle. It really got good to me. I hit one off the fence, about 375 feet out.”
Curt said that after he left the batting cage, he talked to Terry Whitfield, who gave him a few tips on power. When McCovey had taken his turn in the cage, Curt went up a second time. This trip he almost knocked the stitches loose from the ball, hitting shots all over the field. “I felt more relaxed this time, which is probably the reason why I was sticking so good,” Curt says.
Curt then went out to second base and fielded about 30 to 40 shots off the bat of Davenport.
Curt said the Astroturf is “unbelievable, nothing like what we play on in Esque,” with a slight chuckle in his voice.
“They also tested me for range,” he said, “to see if I had mobility.” Curt didn’t disappoint anybody; his range was good on both sides of the field.
Davenport was particularly impressed by his play and said that with a little improvement he thought Curt could develop into a very good major league ballplayer.
After Curt came off the field, batting coach Hank Sauer let him know that he, too, was very impressed.
He made a statement to San Quentin coach Mike Ferretti to the effect that he would like to have Curt at the Giants training camp at Casa Grande, Ariz.
Ex-major leaguer Curt Flood came over and commended Curt on his play and said he had the right tools to make it.
Before Curt departed from Candlestick, he went over to the bleachers and signed autographs for spectators who wished him well. He said the Yankees have also shown interest in acquiring his services, and he may end up signing with them. However nothing definite has been set at this time.
Curt said what happened to him just goes to show you that it is not impossible to make it if you work hard and remain athletically inclined. “Basketball players, football players, boxers, tennis players, whatever your sport may be, don’t just sit around thinking that you are a convict, because if you work hard and do well you’re bound to get some action,” he said.
“There are many good athletes in San Quentin” said Curt, “and I just hope they will put their talent to use.”
-By Robert Simmons