One of my favorite local spots to cover is baseball in Yountville. The Veterans Retirement Home has a terrific baseball facility on the grounds named Cleve Borman Field. It has played host to Vintage and St. Helena high school games as well as the yearly State American Legion championship tournament.
The place has been rated one of the 10 coolest high school baseball venues in the U.S. by Max Preps.
St. Vincent has played there a time or two, and it is my hope that Vintage hosts either Petaluma or Casa this year when baseball rolls around. The covered grandstand and the greenery that covers the outfield fences is only the beginning of the attraction of the picturesque old ball yard.
The field is well maintained, and the vets who are justifiably proud of their park. Automatic sprinklers pop up at the end of the last game of the day to keep the outfield grass green.
Between innings, fans can sneak down to a fully stocked snack bar that features lunch sandwich and burrito plates, burgers, Polish dogs and JJ’s favorite — vanilla/chocolate swirl soft ice cream cones.
For American Legion games, there are even four or five choices of ice cold brews for thirsty adults.
This season, the Petaluma Leghorns were a strong entry in the Legion State Tournament, and I anticipated some outstanding play by our local team upon arriving at the tree-lined drive that is bordered by a golf course. A multitude of national flags were out on opening day as there was also a well-attended activity going on at historic Lincoln Theater, located on the way to the ballpark.
The slow drive circles around an inviting swimming pool that is close to the right-field fence. It is at this point that motorists have to pump the brakes even more for a convergence of single-passenger motorized carts that traverse the facility. Watch out for the mobile vets.
Of course, there is a patriotic flavor to the pre-game ceremonies when players are reminded to “uncover” and stand at attention during the National Anthem. It’s hard not to get a little lump in the throat standing next to those who have served well.
During the first day of the tournament, players from previous games walked by in their swim trunks and cooled off in the adjoining pool. Teams from Los Angeles, San Diego, Merced and Northern California stayed over night in facilities provided by the American Legion.
There is a very casual atmosphere during the game as the vet public address announcer kept fans entertained with his asides, including announcing the changing lineups of both clubs in addition to a constant reminder about the 50-50 split of raffle tickets.
Some vets who didn’t buy discounted admissions still purchased raffle tickets from seats in their motorized carts just outside the fence near the first-base dugouts.
One junior high youngster from Petaluma bought a string of tickets and was asked, “ Can you vote yet?”
I advise that visitors take the long exit route around the facility that includes a slow drive by dorm facilities, administration offices, a hospital and activities centers where the veterans have their own communications channel.
Anyway, all went well as the Leghorns won it all this season and headed toward Denver as the California state representatives.