Memories of the Game
Ron Mosher, Sports Editor of Mountain Echo Newspaper in Fall River Mills, California, shares his recollections of town baseball teams in eastern Shasta and western Lassen counties in the 1940's.
There was fierce competition among company baseball teams during that time. Teams from Adin, Bieber, Little Valley, Fall River Mills and Burney competed annually for the bragging rights to local baseball. All local fields, with the exception of Little Valley, had lights, so games were played several nights a week in all communities. Cars would circle the field, so wives could sit in the cars and knit and keep up on local gossip while the husband's played ball. A home run would illicit horn honking that could be heard throughout the towns.
Teams were sponsored by local merchants and companies. The comptetition got so fierce, that some sponsors started bringing in 'ringers' to help their team win the trophy. Scott Lumber company owner Raymond Berry hired a superb pitcher from southern California one spring. He gave him a job at his mill, and a home to live in. He pitched better than any other hurler in the league that summer, with Scott Lumber Company winning the championship. His name was Luke Perry (and no, not THAT Luke Perry). The following winter, Perry informed Berry he didn't want to pitch the next summer, and was promptly fired from his job and evicted from the company-owned home. That's an example of how competitive it became.
All the local fields had a scorekeepers building and concession stand. Bottles of pop (soda as it was also called) were kept cold in metal tubs with block ice chopped up and they were ice cold. As a youngster, I accompanied by father to the games, as he was scorekeeper for Ted Jones Standard Oil team from Bieber. Us kids would chase the foul balls. Bring back two, and you got a free 'Pop'.... the battle for foul balls was almost as competitive as the games on the field.
Those days of competitive baseball are just a memory now. Many of the local mills shut down (or were bought out by bigger conglomerates) and the sport faded away. Many of the fields are overgrown with weeds, converted to rodeo grounds, or are little league facilities. Adult team competition now consists of co-ed softball leagues and fast-pitch softball tournaments.
It's too bad those times are just a memory. It was a fun family time.