Catching Family Fun with the Colt 45s
● By Jon Lewis
Boys of Summer
By Jon Lewis
Photo by Eric Leslie
During his seven years as a Major League ballplayer, Rick Bosetti played in packed stadiums across North America. He even notched some postseason experience as he patrolled center field for the Oakland A’s when they were chasing the pennant in 1981.
These days, as he bustles around putting the finishing touches on Tiger Field and preparing for the Colt 45s season, Bosetti is just as excited about baseball. It turns out the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd still electrifies, whether it’s Oakland Alameda Coliseum or South City Park.
The first pitch of the Colt 45s’ 14th season will be thrown Friday, May 26, when the Santa Rosa Rosebuds come to town for a three-game set, and there to celebrate it will be Homer, the new mustachioed mascot.
Homer, who will become a familiar figure around town and at the ballpark, is just one addition to the Tiger Field scene for this season. Additional fencing has been added to increase the fans’ sense of security and enclose a pair of new bocce ball courts and an expanded concession area.
Bosetti, the Colt 45s general manager, also has worked to give his ballplayers a fresh look by adding a yellow sleeveless jersey to the mix. That brings this year’s uniform options up to three. Safely stowed away in the clubhouse are a season’s worth of new bats (a $10,000 order) and 80 dozen baseballs. (Bosetti says the team goes through an average of two and a half dozen baseballs during a game.)
Originally established by the late Denny Brugman as a men’s league team, the Colt 45s transitioned into a summer collegiate wood-bat team when Greg Cadaret, another former big-leaguer, took on the managing role. When Cadaret left to coach a pro team in Traverse City, Mich., Brugman and Paul Barrington stepped in to run things for three or four years.
Bosetti, the former Simpson University Redhawks coach, is now in his fifth year with the Colt 45s. Cadaret returned to the fold two years ago and is preparing for his second season as the head coach.
While Cadaret’s mission is to provide some of the country’s top college-level amateurs a chance to hone their skills over the summer break, Bosetti is focused on improving the 94-year-old ballpark, reclaiming South City Park and creating win-win partnerships with nonprofit groups.
“I want to provide affordable, quality family entertainment,” Bosetti says. He notes that a family of four with two children can attend a Colt 45s game for $14. With fresh, homemade hot dogs and hamburgers going for $3.50 and 16-ounce craft beers (for the older fans) available for $5, Bosetti figures a night at the ballpark doesn’t have to be a budget-busting experience.
“We want this to be a good summertime choice for families to come out, visit and gather with friends,” Bosetti says. Fans are doing just that to the tune of 850 paid attendance, on average, for each of last season’s 40 games.
Nonprofit organizations also are getting in on the fun. Nearly every one of the 39 home games this summer is associated with a nonprofit. Each group is given a block of tickets to sell and can pocket half of the proceeds. A check is presented behind the backstop at each game. Bosetti says more than $20,000 was returned to nonprofits last season, with Cottonwood Little League being the year’s big winner: the youth baseball group sold 1,400 tickets and earned $3,500.
The park’s new bocce ball courts, built by the Sons of Italy Shasta Lodge No. 2453 and which received rave reviews during last fall’s Paesano Days event, will be put to use for a tournament the weekend of June 23-25 when the Humboldt Crabs visit for a three-game series. The tournament will have room for 48 teams and all participants will receive game tickets.
KIXE-TV partners with the Colt 45s on the Fourth of July. The public television station distributes 1,000 tickets that allow fans to set up chairs on the field and watch the fireworks as they explode in the northern sky above the Safeway supermarket. “That’s one of our big nights,” Bosetti says. Game time is moved back to 6 pm and the stadium lights go off when the first rocket is launched.
Bosetti hopes July 21 is an even bigger night. With the Colt 45s on a rare road trip to Eureka, Tiger Field will become the venue for a fundraising concert by the country band Sixwire (known from their frequent appearances on the TV series “Nashville”) with special guests John Elefante (former lead singer with Kansas) and Steve Augeri, the former lead singer with Journey.