Monday, November 8, 2010


For Visalia die-hards, "1978" still holds a certain mystique. It was the greatest team the city has seen, and the last to win the California League championship. It dominated the league in nearly every statistical category, and won the title on a thrillingly climactic final day of the season...when they had to win twice.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back in Black & White

Clever titles are optional, and feel free to supply your own. But after an exciting season (Visalia was in the playoff race until the final day), we're back with more semi-regular updates. We've also added a second page to the blog (see "Trophy Case" across the top of the page) with everything Visalia has won since entering the California League in 1946. Sure, the club has managed to win the league only twice, but you might be surprised by how many other times they've been agonizingly close. Individual award-winners are also listed, and you might recognize some of the names.

Also, there's this:
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We believe this was taken in the early 50s at the same baseball clinic that this picture is from. Unfortunately, we can't be sure. But it's definitely Rec Park in the old Wooden Grandstand Era. The batter gets points for style and effort; no points, however, for failing to rotate his hips on the swing (or make contact, for that matter). Hey, for all we know, it was a filthy pitch.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Where'd We Go? Nowhere!

If you're wondering why there've been no new blog posts in recent weeks, there's a very good's baseball season again! Since I have several dozen other things to attend to during the best time of the year, the blog naturally has to shift to the backburner over the Summer months.

Fear not, however; come late September, we'll be back with more Visalia baseball, local, and, uh, early-breaking.

Until then, please tune in to KJUG AM 1270 for broadcasts of every Rawhide game in the Visalia area, or listen from anywhere in the world at

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sporting Life

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This was one of many local amateur teams that sprung up in the early 1880s after the first baseball game in Visalia. It's a shame that modern teams don't still pose like these distinguished gentlemen did (especially the two guys in front). Also, we've got to find some excuse to bring the candycane hats back. And the high socks...well, they're just classy.

This photo (found in the 1982 team program) also proves the incredible heritage of the Simpson family in Visalia baseball lore. John Simpson (top row, far left) was the great-great grandfather of Stan Simpson, who owned the Visalia Oaks during the 1980s and has been a passionate supporter of local sports his entire life.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Random Gems: Buy Ticket, Win Car

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You just can't buy $1 raffle tickets and win a car anymore. Those were the good old days, I guess.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love the 80s

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Well, with posters like this, who wouldn't?

I highly recommend clicking on this brilliant image and enjoying it in full, large format. Make sure to take note of every little detail* (including the late-80s "Flying Acorn" logo, which is one of my favorite Visalia logos of all time).

Then, read how the two pitchers in this classic shot fared after the jump.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Programs from the Past: 1951

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This was the cover of the Visalia Cubs' 1951 official program. It's interesting to contemplate the fact that baseball was already celebrating 75th anniversaries in the early 1950s. While it may be initially unclear why they chose 1876 as the beginning of baseball (the sport had been evolving since a few decades prior), it's likely that they were referencing the formation of the National League, which was indeed founded in 1876 after the old National Association had folded. Major League Baseball still considers 1876 to be its founding year (even though the American League wouldn't join forces to create the familiar two-league system until 1901).

Full contents of the '51 program are viewable after the jump.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vada Pinson and the Big Redleg Machine

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The 1957 Visalia Redlegs were, by most objective measures, one of the best teams ever to grace Recreation Park. They featured two future Major Leaguers, one big league vet on his way down, and, arguably, the 2nd-greatest player to ever wear a Visalia uniform.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poppa's Got An Old-School Drag

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We don't exactly know the date of this picture. This much is clear: It's definitely Rec Park (see the distinctive light tower in the background?) and it's definitely sometime after the early 60s (see the chain-link fencing around the perimeter? No more sign-boards.) We'd guess it's from the late 60s or early 70s, but if there are any tractor connoisseurs in our audience who can pinpoint the year of this fine model, please speak up.

The bottom line is, in a land before convenient Gators and ATVs, you had to use any vehicle that was handy to help drag the infield.

Update: reader Kacey tells us that she showed the picture to a "tractor buff" friend, and he said the following: "I think it's a 'Farmall Cub' which was manufactured by International Harvester. My grandad's neighbor used to have one. Not sure about the year though, it's pretty hard to pinpoint the exact years of tractor just by looking at 'em, cause they rarely make big changes to the designs. If I had to guess though, I'd say the tractor was from the 50s or 60s."

Also, Tom points out that the picture makes it appear that the ENTIRE infield was dirt at this time. It's very hard to tell for sure; the difference between grass and dirt in a black-and-white photo, especially in the background, is difficult to distinguish. But if that's true, it could place the picture in the mid-60s, when Visalia didn't have a team for several years (1964-67) and the park doesn't appear to have been particularly well-maintained. The tractor may have been dragging the field for a high school game.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random Gems: Baseball Camp at Rec Park, 1950

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This terrific shot was taken during the Summer of '50, and features a small flotilla of Visalia kids being instructed on the finer points of pitching by Dom Conteras, who pitched two seasons for the Visalia Cubs. The young southpaw on the far left is Art Browning, who has remained a lifelong fan of Visalia baseball and still lives in the area.

You get a good view of Rec Park's old wooden grandstands in the background, along with another group of kids taking infield instruction on the dirt.

Everything about this picture (Conteras' baggy pants, the kids' rolled-up jeans and Converses, the floppy pancake-mitt gloves) is just gold.