River Cats Unveil All-New Sactown Uniforms 

by editor Rick Cabral

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento River Cats today unveiled their new “Sactown” alternate uniform, which will debut during the 2016 season.


The uniform, which includes an alternate jersey and hat, draws inspiration from both Sacramento’s and San Francisco’s iconic bridges, as well as from both cities’ baseball history, according to the 'Cats mews release.

In keeping with the Giants’ tradition, the River Cats will wear the new orange Sactown jerseys for all Friday home games as an ongoing effort to bridge the two organizations.

The orange and charcoal uniforms will make their River Cats debut on Wednesday, March 30
for the team’s exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants. The jersey, which was designed in-house by long time River Cats graphic designer Mike Villarreal, combines both Sacramento’s Tower Bridge and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, further bringing together the River Cats with their Major League affiliate, the San Francisco Giants.

“We had a chance to make something totally new, and we wanted to do something that would capture the Sac pride and feeling,” Villarreal said of the jersey design. “Obviously it has a Giants influence with the colors and the bridge, but our focus was on making something unique to Sac that people would be proud to wear.”

Something new is right.

Just the use of the slang city term “Sactown” will be a novel addition for the hometown ‘Cats (who are actually based in West Sacramento). Also the cap is a major departure from previous logos, and reminds one that we should expect many “bombs” on Friday nights, as the S-A-C could be misconstrued as the government’s Strategic Air Command team .

(Just kidding--West Sac airspace is totally safe!)

T-shirt versions of the Sactown jerseys are currently available at the On Deck Shop at Raley Field and the replica jerseys and Sactown hats will be on sale soon.



Pro News

Despite Down Season, Giants Place 3 Among Top 10 Defenders 

San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford led all National League players—and all shortstops in the major leagues—in the final SABR Defensive Index rankings for the 2015 regular season. 

The Giants placed three players in the Top 10 among National Leaguers in this sabermetric defensive statistic. 

The SABR Defensive Index (SDI) is used to help select the winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® and Rawlings Platinum Glove Award™, presented by SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research.

Crawford’s mark of 16.8 topped all National League players with Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado second with a 13.2 mark, followed by Miami shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria with a 11.6 score. 

Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier led all players by a wide margin with a 26.7 score. Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado finished second in the American League with a 12.4 mark.

This is the final in-season update of the SDI rankings (through games to September 13) and includes all 2015 qualifiers who will appear on the Rawlings Gold Glove Award ballot sent to managers and coaches.

Giant first baseman Brandon Belt finished third among National Leaguers—and tops among all at that position—with a 11.1 score. San Francisco catcher Buster Posey’s 9.7 mark led all NL catchers, and placed him seventh overall in the NL.

To date, Crawford has made just 13 errors for a .979 fielding percentage, career bests in both categories for the fifth-year player. The 28-year-old player was elected to his first All-Star game this season.

The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts.

The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended based on STATS Zone Rating and built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating. 

The SABR Defensive Index accounts for approximately 25 percent of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process that was added to the votes from the managers and coaches.

(Compiled from SABR News Release)




Sacramento right-handed pitcher Ty Blach posted a perfect fielding percentage to earn Minor League Baseball's Rawlings Gold Glove award at his position.

Starting 27 games for the River Cats Blach defended 53 chance opportunities without an error over 165.1 innings.

A third-year pro, Blach was selected out of Creighton University by San Francisco in the fifth round of the 2012 amateur draft. He was the only player in the Giants minor league organization this season to garner a Gold Glove award.

After almost a 50-year hiatus, Minor League Baseball resumed the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove awards in 2011.


Realizes Dream to Pitch Once More on MLB Mound

Editor's Comment

In a feel-good story at O.co Coliseum today, former A’s teammates Barry Zito and Tim Hudson matched up on the mound as the Athletics hosted the Giants. That the Giants won 14-10 was insignificant in a disappointing follow-up year to their glorious 2014 World Championship season. 

But even the Zito-Hudson face-off was anti-climactic, as by the third inning both pitchers were out of the game and in their respective dugouts for what likely is the final time either will pitch in that ballpark. The same setting where the Athletics’ Big Three (Hudson, Mark Mulder and Zito) led the A’s to four-straight division titles from 2000-2003.

When Sacramento became the A’s Triple-A franchise in 2000, Hudson (and soon after Mulder) were pitching for the parent club in Oakland. But Zito was one of the original River Cats, notching an 8-5 record through the summer (In fact, he and Adam Piatt were the two 'Cats representatives at the Raley Field groundbreaking). Zito was one we rooted for so we could claim “one of our own” had reached the big leagues.  

As a River Cats’ season ticket holder who split his package with three other parties, I had the misfortune of not seeing Barry Zito pitch at Raley Field until what turned out to be his final game in Sacramento. The buzz around the stadium was that this would be Zito’s last minor league outing and it proved true.

One week later on July 22, I had the pleasure of watching Zito make his major league debut at the Coliseum against the Angels of Anaheim.

The left hander whipped out that magical, looping 12-6 curve ball that mesmerized the Angels for four innings. But in the fifth, they loaded the bases with no out and the mashers coming up. Zito proceeded to fan the hulking Mo Vaughn looking, then struck out slugger Tim Salmon and lefty Garrett Anderson swinging to retire the side. 

Zito charged back to the home dugout with a thunderous ovation by A’s fans ringing in his ears. They had found the third link in the Big Three. He finished the season 7-4 with an impressive 2.34 earned run average.

Two years later, Zito had a breakout season for the Athletics, going 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA. He won the American League Cy Young Award, beating out Pedro Martinez who was at his zenith with Boston en route to a Hall of Fame career. 

Alas, that was Zito’s high point as well (individually speaking).

In 2006, the Athletics returned to the playoffs as Zito posted a 16-10 season in the final year of his contract. But Oakland’s frugal general manager Billy Beane reconciled himself to the obvious fact he couldn’t afford to resign the left-handed 3-time All-Star with 101 victories.

So Zito signed with San Francisco for $126 million over seven years; at that time the richest contract for a pitcher in baseball. In 2010, the Giants left Zito off the playoff register, but Barry earned praise for the way he handled the demotion. Plus, he earned a ring for the SFGiants first-ever World Series crown. Two years later that loyalty was rewarded and Zito pitched lights out, conquering the Cardinals in Game Five of the NLCS.

For good measure he earned a victory in that year's World Series against Detroit.

This afternoon, Zito's mid-80s' fastball velocity reminded one of a high school pitcher (but he was never about gas; it was his ability to miss bats, plus zen-like approach to the game.). But you’ve got to give him this.

After not playing in 2014, Zito still retained the dream of pitching again in the major leagues. So this spring Oakland signed him to a minor league deal. He labored all season for their Triple-A affiliate, going 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA for the Nashville Sounds.

But today the former Cy Young winner attained his final diamond dream and was fortunate enough to have done in concert with former Big Three teammate Tim Hudson (one of the classiest guys in baseball), as the two sailed off in the sunset with ovations still ringing in their ears from the appreciative Coliseum crowd.

It marked the end of an era in Bay Area baseball.


Bos Cool On Way to NL Wild Card Playoff


Chris Bosio (Cordova High / Sacramento City College) appeared on the MLB.tv program High Heat this morning just prior to the Chicago Cubs opener of a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

To begin the day, the Bucs were 3.5 games ahead of Chicago in the National League Wild Card race, and this weekend's series may prove whether the Cubbies can catch Pittsburgh for the coveted top spot in the the Wild Card race, which yields home-field advantage in the sudden-death environment.

Asked how he planned to handle the pitching staff in these final 10 games Bosio calmly replied "Everybody in a uniform has to be available (to pitch). It's all hands on deck, whatever it takes to win a game.

"We're playing every game to win. That's the difference with what we had in the past."

Bosio spoke admiringly of first-year skipper Joe Maddon, whose club has improved its winning percentage this year by .135, leading all major league teams in turn-around over 2014.

Bosio is in his fourth season as the Cubs' pitching coach and this marks the fourth major league staff on which he has served.

In 11 big league seasons with Milwaukee and Seattle, he posted a 94-93 record with a 3.96 earned run average. While pitching for the Mariners in 1993, Bosio tossed a no-hitter against Boston.

After retirement in the late 1990s, Bosio returned home and operated a baseball faciliity in El Dorodo Hills, while also providing instruction and coaching of youth travel teams.

Then he began a collegiate coaching career, which transitioned to the professional ranks.

One afternoon at Raley Field, with Nashville in town and the Sounds manager tossed out of the game, Bosio--the pitching coach-- had assumed the reins. The Sounds were murdering the ball that afternoon, while the 'Cats meekly licked their paws in a poor performance. At one point, with the stadium crowd in a hush, a spectator yelled out, "Hey, Bos! What did you feed your hitters this morning?"

After a slight hestiation, Bosio's voice boomed from the visitor's dugout, 'Beer!"

Concluding the High Heat interview, Bosio offered " I really believe our best baseball is still coming."

~ ~ ~

Game Update: Pirates 3, Cubs 2

Jon Lester and Gerrit Cole battled through 7 innings at Wrigley Field this afternoon, but the Pirates' pitching was a smidge better to take the first of a three-game series, 3-2.

Cole (18-8) allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out eight while posting the win. Lester (10-12), who began the season as Chicago's ace, tossed a strong outing, allowing five hits, 2 ER, while fanning six.

Pittsburgh improved to 94-60, while Chicago dropped to 89-64 and now trail in the Wild Card race by 4.5 games with nine to play.




Leon Lee Leads Sacramento Into the Great West

By Editor Rick Cabral

The city of Sacramento has seen its fair share of teams and leagues over the 150+ years they’ve been playing baseball in the Capital City.

Next summer that list will grow, with today’s announcement that Sacramento has been awarded a franchise and in 2016 will be a founding member of the Great West League.

The Great West League will be a high-level collegiate summer wood-bat program, that the organizers hope one day will rival the Cape Cod League, America’s elite summer wood-bat program.


Ken Wilson and Leon Lee at today's announcement
that Sacramento will field a team in the new Great West League in 2016.

The local franchise will be led by Sacramento’s “Mr. Baseball,” Leon Lee, who starred in the Japanese League from 1978 to 1987. His partner and main investor is Vujadin Jovic, a former NBA agent who represented Vlade Divac (the Kings’ new General Manager) and other Eastern European basketball stars.

Ken Wilson, the Great West League president, was on hand to make the announcement in concert with Lee at The Limelight Bar and Restaurant, Sacramento’s newest sports establishment with a baseball theme. Wilson said Sacramento is the fifth franchise, and he hopes to announce a sixth team later this week.

“We’re thrilled to be getting a GWL franchise here in Sacramento,” Lee said today, “this is really a big thing for baseball fans in Sacramento.”

Lee’s group—Sacramento International Baseball Association LLC—admittedly is behind, as they have yet to hire a general manager and operational and marketing staff. More importantly, they’re unsure where the team will play next season. Lee and his group have been negotiating with the city of Sacramento with big plans to renovate Renfree Field, once home to semi-professional and amateur baseball beginning in 1968.

But that announcement is for another time.

Wilson, who is affiliated with the Portland Pickles franchise, said the GWL has been brewing since 2013. “We wanted to do it right, with a solid foundation.” Along with Wilson—longtime major league broadcaster for the Mariners, Angels, White Sox, Cardinals and Oakland A’s, and a former league official of the rival West Coast League summer program—will be Pat Gillick, long-time Philadelphia Phillies executive who will run the Chico Heat. Other teams in the GWL include the Lodi Crushers and Marysville Gold Sox, which has operated a successful program in the Horizon Summer Series.

Wilson says the key to his new league is “community support and corporate sponsorship.” He believes fans will support the GWL because the quality talent level will rival comparable for-profit enterprises across the United States, like the Cape Cod League. “Our league will be run like a minor league baseball operation,” Wilson said.

When asked if Lee would recruit local collegiate players, he said that he could field a top caliber team today with the talent coming out of Sacramento. Lee should know.

The Grant High star was one of Sacramento’s top prospects in 1971 and played seven seasons in the Cardinals farm system. He then joined brother Leron Lee in Japan, and the Lee’s became “the Bash Brothers” of the Orient, slugging homers and driving in runs with eye-popping ferocity.

After his playing career was over, Leon Lee also coached and managed in the Japanese League, where he served as a consultant to the film producers of the movie, “Mr. Baseball,” starring Tom Selleck. Hence, Lee’s appellation “Sacramento’s ‘Mr. Baseball.’”

Lee and partners Eddie Cervantes and Larry Wolfe have run a baseball academy for youth up to age 18, and Cervantes and Lee also ran a summer-league program based in Lodi. So, Leon Lee is extremely well grounded in amateur baseball in the Sacramento region.

Oh, and his son Derrek Lee (El Camino High) enjoyed a 15-year career in the major leagues.

Finally, for the past two seasons Lee also has served as color analyst for the Sacramento River Cats' home games, pairing up with long-time play-by-play man, Johnny Doskow.

Stay tuned for more details on the Great West League’s newest franchise.

~ ~ ~

Pollman and Madrigal Tabbed All-WCL in Summer League Action

Speaking of the rival West Coast League...

Gunnar Pollman, Sacramento State's junior catcher, and Nick Madrigal, (Elk Grove High) incoming freshman shortstop at Oregon State University, were selected First Team All-West Coast League, the NorthWest collegiate summer league.

Pollman, who caught for Klamath Falls, batted .314 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 11 runs batted in over 27 games.

Madrigal, fresh off the Sac-Joaquin Division I championship, hit .303 with nine doubles, two triples and 20 RBI for the Corvallis Knights, where he also stole a team-leading 40 bases.

~ ~ ~

Finally, speaking of town-ball entries, Winters' baseball historian Tom Crisp has come out with a new book titled "The $1,000 Elimination League--A 1915 Sacramento Valley Experiment."

Crisp's blurb reads:

One hundred years ago Sacramento found itself without a professional baseball team to occupy Buffalo Park. The civic leaders and baseball men of Sacramento came up with the “$1,000 Elimination League” to satisfy the baseball “bugs” and to give the young talent of Northern California a chance to show their skills. With no entry fee and prize money of $1,000 the league attracted 22 teams, with about half from Sacramento and the other half from small towns from Chico down to Lodi.

On Tuesday, September 29th Crisp willgive a presentation on this topic at the Winters Library at 6:30 p.m. The book, priced at $25, will be on sale at the meeting.








High School



For decades, Sacramento has been a hotbed of tremendous baseball talent. A few of the homegrown locals performing in the Major Leagues at present from the greater Sacramento area* include J.P. Howell, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Parra, Andrew Susac, and many more.

Among the hundreds of former professional players who have hailed from around here (and this is not an exhaustive list) include: Dusty Baker, Larry Bowa, Ken and Bob Forsch, Stan Hack, Woody Held, David Hernandez, Derrek Lee, Joe Marty, Butch Metzger, Steve Sax, Greg Vaughn, Fernando Vina and many others.

Numerous MLB managers have come out of Sacramento, including:
Dusty Baker (SF Giants, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds) Larry Bowa (San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies) Jerry Manuel (Chicago White Sox and New York Mets) Buck Martinez (Toronto Blue Jays) John McNamara (6 teams).

Many top-name big league players barnstormed through Sacramento from the teens through the early '60s. Among the barnstormers, none were bigger than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who performed as the Bustin' Babes and Larrupin Lous here in Sacramento in 1927 (you can read more about that tour at ThePitchBook.com).

After runnin' the bases here, if you would like to submit material that you believe should be included at BaseballSacramento.com, please send an email to
RAC (at) baseballsacramento (dot) com.

Also be sure to check out the All-Time Top 50 Players from Sacramento in the History section.


Rick Cabral

* The "greater Sacramento baseball area" extends west to Woodland, north to Yuba City, east to Grass Valley and south to the San Joaquin County line.

Updated 10/6/15
All contents © Rick Cabral, 2010-2015



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