Last season, the San Quentin A’s finished with a 38-2 record, placing the team in the upper echelons of SQ sports history. Going into the 2020 calendar, the team will be facing tougher competition. The word has spread to several local semi-pro teams about the A’s and they want to face the team.
Manager Richard “Coach Will” Williams, V.P. of baseball operations John “Yahya” Parratt, outfield coach Terry “Lefty” Burton, pitching coach Anthony “Bruno” Caravalho, and infield coach Douglas “Doug E. Fresh” Abineau were at the helm of the 2019 season’s ship, steering their crew to the unprecedented win total. We gathered inside the media center to sit down and talk baseball.
MA: Last season, the A’s had a 38-2 record. Let’s just be blunt: how did you guys get that done?
Doug Abineau: This is the first year that we had a real team, not guys who thought they were entitled to play. Everyone knew their role and everyone understood it was a privilege to play, not an inherent right to be on the field.
Richard Williams: As manager, I felt fortunate to be a part of the experience. The staff we have and the team formed a bond. The 33game win streak was not that important. What was important was having each player do their best and leave it all on the field.
John Parratt: We had a lot of discipline. The guys were always present whether rain or shine and we had coachable players. Guys just needed to give what they had in them. After that, we worked with what we had. We worked as a team and everyone was held accountable.
Terry Burton: I think we learned from previous seasons’ shortcomings. At game time, everyone was there to play and we came together as a team. There was very little backbiting — which was a major problem in previous years — and a contributor to team disunity. Because we approached this season differently, we had a memorable season that’ll probably never be matched.
Anthony Caravalho: We gelled together. It was also therapeutic; this team helped me to improve my life.
MA: Talk to me about your experiences with baseball and where you guys are from outside these walls.
JP: I come from a baseball family. I’m raised in Redding and lived in Sacramento. I went to Shasta College in Redding, California, and played there. I’ve been at San Quentin for 10 years.
DA: I started in the Pony League (15 to 18 years old). I’ve coached in the Colt League — which is semi-pro players — since the age of 22. I’ve been here at The Q coaching for five years.
AC: The first time I touched a baseball? I was 7, right after Bob Gibson struck out 17 Detroit Tigers in the World Series in ’68. I wanted to be like Bob Gibson. I won 62 straight games, from Little League to Sunset High School. In my senior year, I lost my first game. I turned down a full scholarship from UC Berkeley Bears, instead going to USC. In the minor leagues, I played for the Fresno Grizzlies — the Giants’ farm team.
RW: I’ve played Little League since 7 years old; I also played at Riverside Junior College. Here at The Q, I began as an umpire, then as a staff coach, then finally, as manager. I was born and raised in Smyrna, Tennessee, then moved to Riverside County, in Southern California.
MA: What were your goals as players and as individuals?
TB: In 2005, I came here to The Q to get myself together. My sticking point was to play baseball here and to transform myself. I wanted to inspire others beyond the baseball team. Since then, I’ve been a facilitator for Narcotics Anonymous for almost 14 years, which is my foundation and my pillar.
JP: In 2009, I entered a group called IMPACT. One of the tenets is to use your legs for your foundation, your arms for your strength, the torso for your heart, and your head is your headquarters. Currently, I’m the Prison Industry Authority (PIA) Health & Safety coordinator for the past 10 years.
DA: Well, in 2015, I fought to not come here for family reasons. They sent me here anyway. I got a job in the canteen, where I am still today. I heard about the baseball team, which was split between the Giants and A’s. Somehow I made the team. I’m taking Anger Management and Narcotics Anonymous. It’s through the groups that I’ve discovered what fueled my drug addiction, which led to me committing the crimes that I did.
AC: I didn’t want to come here initially because of the damage that I brought to my family’s name. When I got here, I saw Jeff “Dewey” Dumont throwing in a game. I called some of my old baseball buddies and told them, “This team they have here is equivalent to an AA league.” I am involved with TRUST, PUP, Bible Studies and AA.
RW: I wanted to transfer to Soledad but it was closed for intake. When I found out I was going to San Quentin, I remembered what I’d heard about the baseball program, so I took it as a positive omen. I was asked to umpire but declined based on the attitudes of some of the players on the team at the time. I like baseball but I love my family, so I had to forsake some of the things that I liked so I could focus on my freedom. I’m in NA, Project LA and Coalition for Justice.
MA: Who are some of your favorite all-time base ball players?
DA: I liked Derek Jeter. He played the game the way it should have been played, on and off the field.
JP: I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, period.
RW: I’m a Cardinal fan, so definitely “The Wizard” Ozzie Smith. I also liked Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn and Pete Rose.
TB: Charlie Hustle! (Pete Rose)
AC: Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson. Tom Seaver is my favorite pitcher and Willie Mays is my all-time favorite player.
MA: I want to thank you coaches for coming in for this interview. It’s important that people know who we are and what our experiences are that help to form what we’ve evolved to. You guys get the closing statements.
DA: “Never give up” is what we would like to say, even when we were down.
RW: Sports will bring out who you really are. To other incarcerated citizens: Think about your choices and take the time to think about their ramifications.