Hometown Report: Jackie Robinson left mark in Sacramento, too

04/17/2012 12:00 AM

04/17/2012 10:06 AM

Well before he broke the color barrier in major league baseball with his Brooklyn Dodgers debut 65 years ago last Sunday, Jackie Robinson marched through Sacramento.

Soared, actually.

In 1937, Robinson won the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 6 inches for Pasadena City College in the first night track and field meet at Sacramento Stadium (now Hughes Stadium).

Remarkably, Robinson wasn't even the most decorated family member at the event. His older brother, Mack, an Olympic silver-medalist runner the year before, won four events in the sprints and jumps.

Jackie Robinson later set the junior college national record in the long jump at 25-6 1/3.

Speaking of Robinson, one of his teammates when he broke in with the Dodgers was third baseman Spider Jorgensen. He played at Folsom High School and Sacramento City College and also made his big-league debut that day in 1947 after being called up hours earlier from the minors in Montreal.

Said Jorgensen in a decades-old interview: "I came to Ebbets Field on Opening Day scared to death. I didn't think I was going to play. I didn't have any equipment with me. My glove, bats, everything Jackie comes over and says, 'Here, use my second-base glove,' and I'm in the lineup."

Jorgensen died in 2003, three days after his 84th birthday and four days after scouting a game for the Chicago Cubs. He said years ago that he first learned of Robinson while a senior at Folsom in 1938, Robinson's second year at Pasadena, and they later became longtime friends.

Remembering Bud Henle

Funeral services were held Sunday in Davis for Bud Henle, a Davis High School football coaching and teaching icon from the 1950s into the 1980s. Henle, 88, died April 6. A classic old-school coach – gruff and growling – he was beloved after retirement by former players and students.

At Davis, Henle mentored players such as Dave Whitmire, Bob Johnson and Ralph Villanueva, successful athletes who later returned to coach at Davis.

"Mr. Blue Devil, that's who Bud was," said Whitmire, who coached at Davis in the 1980s and '90s with Johnson and Villanueva as his assistants. "Gave me my first job in 1969. I used to take him fishing. He loved that. He loved coaching. He'll be missed."

Longtime Davis Enterprise columnist Bob Dunning recently wrote that his lasting memory was of Henle fishing – casting a line into the middle of the street in Davis from his A Street home.

"Practice," Henle explained to Dunning, his puzzled kids in tow. "You always have to practice."

Battenberg steps down

Terry Battenberg, a championship high school basketball coach in this region since the 1960s, has stepped down at Capital Christian despite a 26-6 season.

Known as a superb teacher of the game with a wry sense of humor, Battenberg won league championships at Jesuit, El Dorado, Ponderosa and Union Mine – the Highway 50 circuit, he called it – and guided a young Capital Christian team that featured just two seniors to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title in March. It was his first section championship and the first for the school.

Battenberg said he wants to spend time with his wife, Barbara, who is retiring from teaching at Sierra College this spring.


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