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Brett Schauf/T&J Studios

As Summer Winds Down, Sports Ramp Up

Football, Soccer, and Big Events at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium


PINNER STUCK AT 100: Bill “Pinner” Pintard, manager of the Santa Barbara Foresters, hit the century mark in victories at the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series in Wichita. But his bid for more, and an unprecedented seventh championship, was derailed by a 6-3 loss to the Everett (Washington) Merchants in the quarterfinals. “We’re really disappointed,” Pintard said. “It wasn’t our best game. But they beat us. You’ve gotta tip your hat.”

The Merchants made it to the championship game, where they lost 7-1 to the Kansas Stars, a team that put Chipper Jones and 20 other former major leaguers back on the diamond. Their experience overcame the youth of the amateur teams that made up the rest of the NBC contenders.

Everett has had the same manager, Harold Pyatte, for 44 years. He also played for the Merchants when they won the NBC crown in 1988. That was their only other appearance in the finals. Both Pyatte and Pintard, who’s been leading the Foresters for a mere 23 summers, have been inducted into the NBC Hall of Fame, a congregation that includes Satchel Paige, Tom Seaver, Billy Martin, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Kirk Gibson, and Tony Gwynn.

The Foresters spread their usual goodwill in Wichita, making their annual visit to young patients at the Via Christi hospital.

Pintard said he’ll remember the 2017 Foresters for “the way they respected the game. They had memorable comebacks. And it was our first year at Persh [Pershing Park].” Luke Ritter, an outfielder from Wichita State, was voted MVP by the players, and Texas right-hander Blair Henley the top pitcher.

LA PLAYA CROWD: The Music Academy of the West and the New York Philharmonic filled the seats at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium last week, possibly the largest crowd there since the Santa Barbara High Dons played Muir to a 7-7 tie in the 1989 CIF football finals.

La Playa will be a busy place this fall as the home field of three football teams — SBCC, S.B. High, and Bishop Diego High. Bishop’s Cardinals will open the season Friday, August 25, against Desert Pines of Las Vegas. The next night, the Dons will take the field against Saugus. SBCC’s opener will be Saturday, September 2, against Ventura College.

The Dons will be playing at La Playa for the next two seasons while the high school’s Peabody Stadium undergoes a long-awaited nearly $28.8 million renovation project.

CLUTTERED CALENDAR: Remembering the time when the first high school football practices were the day after Labor Day and season openers were on the third weekend of September, I find it hard to welcome games in August. It should be a month to relax, read some books — and for serious athletes to work out on their own.

On the college front, UCSB and Westmont played a women’s soccer game this week, and the men’s teams will open their season Saturday, August 19. UCSB’s fall-quarter classes begin on September 28, at which time the Gaucho soccer teams will be halfway through their schedules.

If I were a czar of sports, I would put limits on all seasons. No football or other fall sports before mid-September. Move the World Series up to early October. The NBA and NHL don’t start playing until it’s cold outside.

L.A. 2028: The Summer Olympic Games are coming to Los Angeles for the third time in 2028. The news has not been greeted with unfettered enthusiasm. Surely there are better uses for billions of dollars than to stage two weeks of heavily commercialized athletic competition with nationalistic overtones that will choke Southern California with congestion and inconvenience.

But similar misgivings were expressed before the 1984 Olympics in L.A., and they turned out to be a smashing success on many fronts, producing a profit that continues to endow youth projects throughout the region.

Santa Barbara played a part in those Games, hosting the rowing and canoeing athletes in a village at UCSB (they competed at Lake Casitas), and a windsurfing exhibition at East Beach.

I suggest that UCSB’s Harder Stadium be considered for early rounds of women’s soccer — which did not become an Olympic sport until 1996 — when the 2028 Games come around.

THE COLLISION: Today, August 10, is the anniversary of one of the epic events of the 1984 Olympics — the women’s 3,000-meter run, billed as a duel between America’s favorite Mary Decker and South Africa’s Zola Budd — which became an absolute stunner when Decker went crashing down on the track.

The incident is the centerpiece of the 2016 book Olympic Collision by Kyle Keiderling. He traces the arcs of both Decker’s and Budd’s careers — from their early running days on opposite sides of the world to the aftermath of their fateful Olympic meeting.

As a reporter in the L.A. Coliseum that day, I saw Decker running closely behind Budd, and then she suddenly went down after making contact with the barefooted South African. I could almost hear Mary’s screaming, and I could hear boos from the crowd directed toward Budd. The outcome of the race — Romania’s Maricica Puică winning and a shaken Budd finishing seventh — was an afterthought to the unfolding drama.

Like almost all the experts, after viewing replays of the incident, I could point the finger at Decker for her aggressive tailgating of Budd. But the reverberations from the collision went far beyond any simple observation.

GAME OF THE WEEK

8/14-8/17: Pro Football: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

After their exhibition game against the Rams in L.A. this Saturday, the Cowboys will wrap up their Oxnard training camp with four practice sessions next week. They should be fine-tuning their offense, featuring quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Dez Bryant. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher as a rookie last year, had a 2016 domestic violence accusation still hanging over him this week. He had the support of team owner Jerry Jones, recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mon.-Wed.: 3:45pm; Thu: 10:45am. River Ridge Playing Fields, 2101 West Vineyard Ave., Oxnard. Free admission; $10 parking. See visitoxnard.com/cowboys or dallascowboys.com (check for schedule updates).

Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy Photo

FORESTERS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Hank LoForte

A scrappy 5′6″ infielder from Cal State Fullerton, LoForte hit for a .533 average (8-for-15) in the NBC World Series. He also played a key role on last year’s team that won the title in Wichita.



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