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Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada • Page 25
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Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada • Page 25

Reno, Nevada
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Play It Sunday, July 12, 1987 3S The ritual takes place every spring, when baseball calls young and old to the ballpark. tSSme play, others coach, many watch. Sam Ramirez, enjoying a 30-year love affair with the game, does all three. At 39, his love for baseball has not waned. Reno Gazette-Journal A "We've had a hard time. Pitching is the problem." But Ramirez takes defeat in stride, always holding his head high "Sam keeps hanging in there, smiling," Healy said. "Despite having tough times on the field, he's always in control and a good guy." And a popular one. That's why his players can be seen laughing, smiling and kidding around with him in victory or defeat. "All the guys on the club like Sam," said Larry Steele, a 41-year-old outfielder who plays for the Eagles. "They laugh with him. He knows his baseball strategy. "If he hadn't had a club, I'd have quit three, four years ago. Sam's good to play for." Even if you're losing. "The trick is, he's old and I'm old," Steele said. "If you don't get down, it's like the younger guys say, 'Hey, if we get down, it looks like we're big "In just about every level of ball they get down, they tend to get sloppy. Concentration goes. They lack discipline. That's one thing this club never loses. He (Ramirez) won't put up with it." Negative thinking simply isn't in Ramirez's game plan. He doesn't argue, create a stir or generate anything but positive emotions on the diamond. "Sammy's a great guy," umpire Tim Forbes said. "He'll question a call, but he never gets out of line. He would never cuss at you or act unreasonable. "Sam and Doc Norton (Patrick Norton, manager-sponsor of Doc's A's), those are the kind of guys, they just love the game." Maybe that's why Ramirez, a 5-foot-8, 162-pounder, is still in good enough shape to contribute as a second baseman or designated hitter. "I still contact the ball pretty good," said Ramirez, who played baseball at Lions University in Guadalajara. "I don't have the wheels (legs) I used to, but I can run." And hit. Ramirez, who batted .365 last season, owns a reputation as a hitter who always gets his bat on the ball. "He was a hitter when he was a kid, too. I would bet money," Forbes said. "Just the way he hits now. He never strikes out. He always hits the ball somewhere. I'll bet in his day he was a tough ballplayer." His day is almost over as a player, but not as a coach. Ramirez takes great pride in working with younger players, guys such as Jim McDonald, who played for the Eagles and played Class A ball in the Montreal Expos' organization before returning to Ramirez's team. "That's the best part," Ramirez said. "McDonald, he called me from the pros and said 'Sam, here I That's a good feeling." So is coming to the ballpark on a warm evening. That's a ritual Ramirez has gone through since his days in Guadalajara, where he played baseball with his eight brothers. "You see the sun shine, you say 'It's not going to rain today. Let's play some How much longer can Ramirez continue his summertime fling? "As long as I can," Ramirez said. "It's one of those things." Spoken like a man in love. By John SchumacherGazetta-Joumai Sam Ramirez's true love comes calling just once a year, always leaving after a passionate, three-month affair. They get together every May, rekindling an old spark that has burned for 30 years. They part ways in August, left with only the promise of another rendezvous. Since Ramirez was a 9-year-old playing in the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico, baseball has been his date on many a warm, romantic summer evening. "It's there, in the blood," Ramirez said. "Always. It was in the family." Such a strong bond keeps Ramirez, 39, deeply involved with baseball. He's a fixture in the Casey Stengel League, a circuit designed for former high school, college and pro players who don't want to break up with the sport they love. It doesn't matter if his team, Sam's Eagles, is playing. Ramirez, the Eagles' manager, sponsor and part-time player, can't stay away from the ballpark. "Summertime, here I am," Ramirez said. "Tomorrow, I'll be here again." The next day, Ramirez keeps his word. He's standing in the top row of the bleachers at Moana Municipal Stadium, surveying what has become his summer home. His team has the night off, but Ramirez doesn't want to stand up his favorite game. Evidence of Ramirez's passion for baseball extends beyond his constant presence at Moana. While other teams in the Casey Stengel League enjoy financial backing from sponsors, Ramirez, a bartender at the Onslow Hotel Casino, digs deep into his pockets to supply the required to keep the team going each year. "What sets Ramirez apart (is that) the other guys have their sponsors, but the money doesn't come out of their pockets," Casey Stengel co-commissioner Chris Healy said. "Here's a guy, how much does a bartender in Reno make? Sam probably puts out $750 to $1,000 each year. "He just loves the game. It amazes me how much money he comes up with out of his pocket." Ramirez, who is married with four children, pays the $450 team entry fee and comes up with most of the money for uniforms and equipment. "The hardest thing in this town is to have a sponsor," Ramirez said. "People are into gambling. They don't care for sports very much. It's hard, but we survive. "Most of the time, I'm broke." But Ramirez is accustomed to overcoming obstacles. When he moved to Reno in 1971, he had to surmount a difficult barrier the English language. "It was very hard for me," Ramirez said. "In my time, we don't have no English courses." Ramirez also manages to survive the cumulative effect of defeat, which comes far more often than victory. Last year, Sam's Eagles posted a 2-14 record. This season, they're 1-9, losing their first eight games before defeating Doc's A's, the league's defending champion, 11-6 Wednesday night. "We just keep trying," Ramirez said. Made Cross Gazette-Journal ball since he was a youngster in Mexico. Larry Steele, left, goes over the lineup as Ramirez leaves the Moana Municipal Stadium dugout to hit infield. Steele is a former pro player. PLAY BALL: Sam Ramirez, 39, sponsors, plays and coaches his own team Sam's Eagles in the Casey Stengel League. He says baseball is in his blood. He's been playing base- Mark Crosse Gazette-Journal Casey Stengel League, a Reno circuit and pro players. The 39-year-old Reno game at Moana Municipal Stadium. He Reno batter searches love with baseball HIS GAME: Sam Ramirez is a fixture in designed for former high school, college bartender attends virtually every league plays for and coaches Sam's Eagles. run swing league in attendance, will pass the 100,000 mark during this home stand. "Our original goal was 100,000 for the season, but the people of San Bernardino have shown their support for us beyond our wildest expectations," said General Manager Bill Shanahan, who has his sights set on breaking the Cat League record of 154,547 set by Stockton in 1947. San Jose BEES Left-hander Kat Kamei was voted the California League's Player of the Month for June, with first baseman Daryl Sconiers the runner-up. It was the first time players from the team with the poorest records in the league finished one-two in the balloting. Kamei has the best ERA (1.69) among the league's pitchers, leads the league in strikeouts (135), shutouts (3), complete games (14) and innings pitched (143) and is tied for the lead in victories (10). One of the few bright spots for the Bees in recent days has been the relief pitching of rookie right-hander Doug Kane. A recent graduate of the University of Illinois, he has an 0.98 ERA in seven games, giving up just two earned runs and 15 hits in 18Vj innings and striking out 13 batters Stockton PORTS After enduring their worst slump of the season, a four-game losing streak to end the first half and start the second, the Ports rebounded from a 3-6 second-half start to win a season-high eight straight games. The Ports won the first-half title in the Northern Division with a 49-22 record. Despite having the league's best overall record, 61-29, the Ports placed only five players on the Northern Division All-Star team that will play the Southern Division All-Stars Thursday at Fresno's John Euless Park. Modesto, 52-36, led all Northern Division teams with six selections. VIsalia OAKS The Oaks wasted a good performance by Park Pittman in his most recent outing as Bakersfield scored three runs in the top of the ninth for a 3-2 victory. He pitched eight shutout innings with eight strikeouts before being pulled in the ninth, when he reached a Minnesota Twins' organization quota of 125 pitches. He leads the California League in strikeouts with 134 in 106 innings. Visalia has added pitcher Mark Guthrie and outfielder Larry Blackwell and released pitcher Ernie Carrasco. Gannett News Service and staff reports 'Si 1 ft the Ramirez: A man in Baseball lover ON THE FIELD Ramirez serves as player-manager for Sam's Eagles, one of eight teams in the Casey Stengel League. OFF THE FIELD Ramirez, a bartender, is his team's sponsor, spending each season for fees, uniforms and equipment. BACKGROUND Started playing baseball at age 9 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Played college baseball at Lions University in Guadalajara and played half a season in a Mexican semi-pro league. THE QUOTE 'm so happy to be here sometimes. It doesn make any difference if I'm inside (managing) or outside (playing)." for home another player move this week, losing infielder Frank Masters to Oakland's other full-season Class A team, Madison, Wis. Masters batted .230 in 52 games with the A's. Modesto received Russ McGinnis, who was obtained by Oakland from Milwaukee for pitcher Bill Mooneyham. Mooney-ham started his comeback with Modesto two years ago after being released by California. Palm Springs ANGELS A major reason for the Angels' return to the top of the Southern Division has been the pitching staff, which recently put together a string of 31 Vi consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Salinas finally broke the streak with five runs in the sixth inning of a 5-2 victory over Palm Springs. Seven different pitchers were involved in the streak, in which only one unearned run scored. Right-handed reliever Colby Ward has 13 saves, a 1.28 ERA and compiled a 5-3 record. After struggling for five weeks, Tim Burcham has returned to his dominating form on the mound. Burcham, 10-4, has won his last three decisions, including a shutout against San Jose. In his last 22V3 innings, he has allowed just one run and only 18 hits. Salinas SPURS Clint Zavaras struck out a career high 17 in the 1-0 victory over San Bernardino on July 5. The segment on the Spurs taped for "Good Morning America" aired Wednesday, but no one in Stockton was able to see it. The Iran-Contra hearings, starring Lt. Col. Oliver North, pre-empted the show. According to a Spurs spokeswoman, the segment was shown in other areas of the country, including Chicago and New York. Third baseman Williams Diaz broke an ankle sliding into third base July 4 and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. Pitcher Jeff Nelson, who was married between home plate and the pitchers mound on June 29, earned his first professional victory July 1 when Salinas beat Reno. San Bernardino SPIRIT Manager Rich Dauer is pleased with the progress his catchers have made. Mike Patterson and Victor Cabrera have combined to catch 19 baserunners in the second half; 14 runners have succeeded. "The catching has improved remarkably over the first half," Dauer said. "They're doing a much more effective job." Patterson is 13 for 20, while Cabrera is 6 for 13. San Bernardino, which continues to lead the Local baseball notes Astros call up Kerf eld, former Carson star The Houston Astros recalled right-handed relief pitcher Charlie Kerfeld from Tucson, of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League Saturday. To make room for Kerfeld, the Astros sent right-handed pitcher Ron Mathis outright to Tucson. Kerfeld, 23, opened the season in Houston and was 0-2 with a 9.24 ERA while working in 11 of Houston's first 19 games. At Tucson, Kerfeld was 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA. He starred at Carson High School before pitching at Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, and signing with the Astros. Houston manager Hal Lanier said, "Charlie's pitching well down there. He can really give us a boost a big boost in an area (middle relief) where we're weak. I can alternate him with Larry Andersen." MORE THAN 130 All-Star baseball players in the 14- and 15-year-old age bracket will play for the state championship in Carson City beginning July 24. Nine teams will participate in the tournament and the state champion will be determined in the final game on Thursday, July 30. All games will be held at Governor's Field in Carson City. Ticket prices will be $2 per day for adults; $5 for a tournament pass; and $20 for a family pass. Reno Padres first baseman Craig Cooper is still looking for the home run stroke that made him the nation's No. 2 home run hitter in NCAA Division with 26 in 1986, when he was a senior at Georgia Southern University. Cooper has hit .280 for Reno this year, but has hit just five home runs in 230 at-bats. "Obviously, the organization didn't draft me to hit singles," Cooper said. "I'm just trying to see the ball better." Outfielder Jeff Gray had two straight three-hit games last Saturday and Sunday against Northern Division leader Modesto. He's continued to raise his average well above the .200 mark it hovered under for the first six weeks of the season. It was a 4-hour, 38-minute July 4 nightmare as Reno and Modesto battled for 13 innings before the A's finally scored seven runs, all unearned, in the top of the 14th inning off Mike Mills to take a 12-5 victory. With three saves in the Modesto series, though, Mills leads the California League with 20 saves. When outfielder Rodney McCray collected two hits July 7 against Modesto, it was his first multiple-hit game since May 30, when he had two hits against Stockton. Designated hitter Bill Stevenson's 12th home run, against Modesto on July 6, put him in second place in the California League home run race. Bakersfleld DODGERS Mike Hartley was promoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Class AA team in San Antonio, Texas. Hartley, 5-4, was among the California League leaders in saves with 15. Center fielder Wayne Kirby, who was starting in Bakersfield, has returned after spending six weeks with San Antonio. First baseman Mike Burke, who played with Bakersfield last season, is back after beginning the season at Vero Beach, Fla. Fresno GIANTS Fresno lost seven of its last eight games after relievers Dave Morris and Roger Samuels were promoted to Class AA Shreveport, California League Associated Press SCONIERS: Former California Angel gets hot in San Jose. La. But the real reason the Giants have unraveled is lack of offense. They've scored just six runs in their last six games. Still, Fresno is 23-14 against Northern Division teams. Subtract a 1-8 mark against Stockton and the Giants are 22-6 vs. the Northern Division teams. Pitching help arrived in the form of right-hander Gil Here-dia of the University of Arizona. He was drafted by the Giants last month. He had an inauspicious debut, allowing four runs on five hits in seven innings in a 4-1 loss. Modesto A'S Pitcher Bruce Walton was promoted to Class AA Huntsville, by Oakland, and his spot on the All-Star team will be taken by righthander Kevin Tapani, 7-5. The A's made r-j LA Mj-4

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