Sacramento’s baseball history now in the Limelight

The Limelight, long a Sacramento fixture on Alhambra Boulevard, recently got a major facelight including new real wood floors.
The Limelight, long a Sacramento fixture on Alhambra Boulevard, recently got a major facelight including new real wood floors.

Sacramento’s Limelight now shines brighter. And this longtime establishment’s own spotlight celebrates Sacramento’s sporting past — including a special baseball reunion.

This transformation into a history-packed sports bar started with a milestone birthday, explains Jane Mikacich, whose family has owned the cafe and bar since 1975.

“Dad turned 80 this year,” Jane said of her father, Pete Mikacich. “We thought it would be a kick to get out all his baseball stuff.”

A former professional baseball player, Pete played on championship teams at Christian Brothers High School and Sacramento City College before signing with the Sacramento Solons. From that birthday salute, the idea grew into a major display and new identity for the restaurant.

Since January, Jane and brother John Mikacich — a multi-sport star at McClatchy High and former Stanford football player — have been in the process of remodeling the cafe-bar with a sports-minded theme.

“Baseball has been such a huge part of our family,” Jane said. “We thought it was a good way to get started.

“Our family has owned this restaurant for such a long time,” she added. “The Limelight got pretty run down; people called it the ‘Slimelight.’ We want to refresh it and rekindle interest. We’ve put money into the facility itself. We’ll keep it casual but comfortable. We want to have a real Sacramento flavor because it’s always been a Sacramento place.”

The family also owned and operated Andiamo! restaurant for 18 years and still runs the card room adjacent to the Limelight.

In its makeover, the Limelight’s cafe and bar area got new real wood floors, replacing tired carpet. The bar itself was refinished and brought back to its gleaming best. More changes are in the works.

“The overall feel and look is much nicer,” Jane added. “We’re working on the food now and we’ll have a new menu coming soon.”

To celebrate its makeover and the upcoming baseball season, the Limelight will host its first “Sacramento Baseball Reunion” from 2 to 6 p.m. April 11.

“We expect many (former) players to come,” said Alan O’Connor, a Sacramento author and baseball historian. “Not just guys of Pete’s generation, but younger players who have connections to Sacramento. We’ve heard from a number of people who are planning to come including some former Solons players.”

O’Connor is helping plan the event as well as finish the Limelight’s displays of photos and memorabilia such as Solons game-used jerseys and bats. The displays include rare photos of early Sacramento baseball teams and players, dating back to the 1880s. Among them are “Spider” Baum, Stan Hack, Pepper Martin, Tony Freitas, Joe Marty, Johnny McNamara and Joe Gordon.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Jane said. “It’s a free event — unless you order a hot dog and a beer. Then, it’s on you.”

The Limelight is located at 1014 Alhambra Blvd., at J Street, on the edge of East Sacramento; phone (916) 446-2236. More details on the baseball reunion are coming soon to its website,

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

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