Baseball at San Quentin Prison.
Last Saturday, May 14th 2011 I entered the confines of San Quentin State Prison along with my good friends in the Mission Baseball Club to play Baseball against the San Quentin A’s. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last time I have played inside the prison however it was definitely the most memorable. While we lost the game with a final score of 7-6, it was a great game that was played well on both sides. I will be back on June 2nd to play again and I for one can not wait. I am not sure if we are playing the San Quentin A’s or the Pirates this time but what I do know is that we will be looking for a win.
If you read this blog and you’re not sure who I am, that’s me in the team photo on the first row all the way to the left with my batting gloves still on. If you are looking at the same photo and wondering why we do not have our spikes on or why we are in a parking lot or why some people do not have their entire uniforms on then here’s your answer: It’s because this photo was taken after the game in the San Quentin parking lot because unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos or film inside SQ without proper clearance. This is something we have never looked into and would in all likelihood be a major pain in the ass to attain.
If you are sitting there thinking “How the hell are they able to play IN the prison??” Well, San Quentin has a Baseball field and in 2003 Metallica donated $10,000 to have the field renovated. 2 prison teams call the “San Quentin Field of Dreams” their home field and in the past they were the San Quentin Pirates & San Quentin Giants. This is not the case anymore. From what I understand, this year the SQ Giants turned into the SQ A’s as the Oakland Athletics donated their Spring Training uniforms to the prison teams and in turn they adopted a new identity. The Giants did donate in the past but I am not sure what happened in 2011. Here is a little insight to San Quentin Baseball that wraps it up in a nutshell (Taken from the prison’s WIKI page):
Since the 1920s, San Quentin inmates have been allowed to play baseball. Starting in 1994, however, inmates have played against players from outside the prison. The games occur twice a week through the summer. The team of prisoners is called the “Giants” in honor of the San Francisco Giants, who donated uniforms to the team, and the team of outside players is called the “Willing”. The umpires and fans are inmates, but the coaches on the field are volunteers. Although some people question the appropriateness of baseball games being held at the prison, officials believe “organized sports is a way to keep inmates occupied and perhaps teach a few lessons on getting along with others.” These games were detailed in a Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel episode on June 20, 2006.
So yep that’s pretty much it. We go into the San Quentin and play against murderers, violent criminals, thiefs, etc., we are told by prison staff that they have a strict no negotiating in hostage situations rule, we get heckeled by dudes who are kinda scary (and funny at times), and deal with the shallowest Right Field I have ever seen. But you know what, it’s an amazing experience and the inmates are very thankful and nice to us. Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I have done this and will continue to do so, but those people are weanies if you ask me…just playin. Kinda.
If you are interested in additional info on San Quentin prison Baseball, here are some links that are defintely worth looking into:
This trailer is from a documentary called “Bad Boys Of Summer” which was done somewhat recently.
A great news segment covering Baseball in the prison.