For the first time in more than a half a century, the “boys of summer” will bring the grand old game of baseball played at the professional level to the Valley, where the sport has a rich history.
Sonoma’s team is currently rounding out its roster for the 2014 June-to-August season.
The Sonoma Stompers Baseball Club, with Arnold Field planned as its home field, is a member of the four-team Pacific Association of Professional Baseball League along with the 2012 Pacific Association champion San Rafael Pacifics, the Vallejo Admirals, and the soon-to-be-named Pittsburg franchise.
Last weekend, the Sonoma Stompers and San Rafael Pacifics hosted a highly attended league-wide open tryout session at Sonoma’s Peterson Field, which, according to event officials, had a Pacific Association record 85 players register for the tryout that brought a bevy of talented young players into the PAPB.
With an enthusiastic crowd of Valley community members and baseball fans on hand to watch and enjoy the open tryout, the four PAPB teams combined to sign 19 players to professional contracts.
The Pacifics inked contracts with four players; the Stompers signed two over the two days; the Vallejo Admirals invited eight players to future workouts and spring training, and the Pittsburg franchise came away with five signed players.
“This was a tremendous success,” said Pacifics President and General Manager Mike Shapiro. “I think the kids who tried out had a good experience, and that bodes well for the entire league and the level of talent that will be coming to the league in the future.”
For the Sonoma Stompers and their general manager Theo Fightmaster, assistant GM Hunter Horenstein and manager Casey Dill, the Valley community turnout and response was both encouraging and energizing.
“It was great to see the people come out from the community for our first real baseball-like function in Sonoma,” said Dill. “I got the chance to meet a few fans that were jazzed about us. It was a positive energy – business owners, parents, fans – it was all great to see.”
Sonoma Mayor Pro Tem David Cook attended the tryout to experience the baseball first hand and then validated the excitement during Monday night’s city council meeting, which, according to Shapiro, is the impact that will help the Stompers in their quest to make Sonoma their home.
One of the speakers at the city council meeting was Tommy Lyons, a Sonoma Valley High School graduate and former standout prep and college player who said he tried out for the Stompers and his prospects were very good.
“This is an opportunity that really allows dreams to come true for local guys,” said Lyons, who’s the son of SVHS head varsity baseball coach and English teacher Don Lyons.
After hearing a few concerns from neighbors regarding noise and lighting, the council voted unanimously to send a letter to the county in support of allowing the Stompers to use Arnold Field.
For more information on the Sonoma Stompers, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.