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.