Joe Davidson

Hometown Report: Manuel, Briggs continue to tend roots

Published: Sunday, Apr. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 7, 2013 - 7:24 am

They may leave home, but home never really leaves them.

Jerry Manuel of Cordova High School early- 1970s baseball fame and Lance Briggs of late-1990s Elk Grove football lore continue to give back to their communities.

Manuel, the 2000 American League Manager of the Year with the Chicago White Sox, is campaigning nationally through magnet programs and through meetings with Major League Baseball executives about a "real need to get more African Americans back in our great sport."

Briggs, the Chicago Bears' seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker, returns to Sacramento each year to run a camp (including June 8 at American River College). And he donates funds to Elk Grove High's football program.

"Lance does an amazing job taking care of us," said Thundering Herd coach Chris Nixon, Briggs' offensive coordinator during the school's 27-1 run (1997-98).

Said Briggs: "Elk Grove is where it started for me."

Shaq attack

Shaq Thompson, The Bee's 2011 football Player of the Year from Grant, looks like the linebacker he is with the Washington Huskies in spring workouts, explosive and strong at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds.

And he wants to look like a baseball player, too.

Thompson, a freshman, spent a week at the Boston Red Sox's rookie spring training camp last month to re-familiarize himself with the sport – including hours of hitting in the cages. After signing a four-year contract with the Red Sox last June, Thompson went through a six-week stretch in the Gulf Coast League in which he struck out 37 times in 39 at-bats with eight walks.

"I'll keep working on it, and I'll get better," Thompson said.

Around the region

Fernando Vina, who played baseball at Valley, Cosumnes River College, Sacramento City and in the majors for 12 seasons, threw out the first pitch for the River Cats' opener Thursday. Vina does color work for the A's on Comcast SportsNet California. "It's great to still be in the game," Vina said.

Guy Anderson, who coached Manuel in 1972 at Cordova, won his 890th game with the Lancers on Wednesday, defeating Mira Loma 3-0. He is one of the winningest coaches in national prep history.

Mark Grieb, a record-setting passer at UC Davis and with the San Jose SaberCats, is the new football coach at Menlo College. He replaces Mark Speckman, who was hired by Dan Hawkins to run the offense with Montreal in the Canadian Football League.

• Grieb's replacement at quarterback for San Jose is ageless wonder Aaron Garcia, The Bee's Player of the Year in 1987 at Grant who went on to Sacramento State and owns a number of Arena Football League passing records. "I've still got it," Garcia said recently.

J.D. Davis of Elk Grove, The Bee's 2011 baseball Player of the Year, is playing a key role in No. 4 Cal State Fullerton's 25-4 start. The Titans wrap up a three-game series at UC Davis today. Davis is batting .312 with 26 RBIs and also has pitched 15 2/3 relief innings.

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