The Healdsburg Prune Packers celebrated their 100th anniversary in style on Saturday, dispatching the visiting Palo Alto Oaks, 7-3 on Fan Appreciation Night at Recreation Park.
The game was loaded with nostalgia and kicked off with a pre-game ceremony honoring six former team members from the 1950s and ‘60s.
“It was great meeting some of these former players,” Packer’s manager/GM Joey Gomes said later. “Another highlight for me was hanging out with the HLL board members and getting to know them. They’re a powerful and fun group who share a love for improving Rec. Park and baseball in Healdsburg.”
Saturday’s win was the third of the week for the Packers, starting the stretch on July 12 with a 14-7 victory over the Novato Knicks before defeating the Oaks, 11-0 on Friday. On Sunday, Healdsburg saw its 12-game win streak snapped by the visiting Lincoln Potters in a 6-5 loss.
The result pushed the Prune Packer’s season record to an outstanding 30-4.
All stars chosen
The Pack were well represented in California Collegiate League (CCL) all star voting, landing eight players on the team. Earning all star CCL honors are second baseman Ryan Targac, pitcher Francis McDonough, pitcher Derek Bridges, shortstop Ian McMillan, catcher Kimble Schuester, pitcher Roman Phansalker, outfielder Jesse Lopez and pitcher Joe Ammirato.
The team’s centennial celebration shined light on the rich tradition of local baseball history.
The Prune Packers have roots that run deep in Sonoma County, with the name conceived from the largest local agricultural crop of the 1920’s. The organization was originally headed by Pop Artlett, a local product and former Pacific Coast League pitcher, and managed by Bob Weston.
The Prune Packers of the roaring ‘20s dominated the Sonoma County baseball scene, taking on teams from all over the Bay Area. The club was widely regarded as one of the best semi-pro teams in the state before disbanding late in the decade.
The Prune Packers were revived in 1951 by the Healdsburg Lighting Committee led by local legends Art McCaffrey, Quinto Barbieri, Ernie Biasotti, Francis Passalacqua, Doug Badger, Maynard Boulden and George Smith, calling Recreation Park home. The era saw clubs from all over the Pacific Northwest that would stay at the Plaza Hotel, and train and play other college and semi-pro teams.
The decade of the 1950s was a golden age for local baseball, as the Packers fielded players that included legendary local stars; pitcher Clarence Ruonavaara, Ed Pisenti and Joe Rochioli.