Former Folsom pitcher will be part of technological debut

Deryk Gross is shown in a 1989 baseball card for the Minnesota Twins’ Class-A club in Kenosha, Wis.  He was among the standouts on the 1985 Carmichael Elks team that finished second in the American Legion World Series.
Deryk Gross is shown in a 1989 baseball card for the Minnesota Twins’ Class-A club in Kenosha, Wis. He was among the standouts on the 1985 Carmichael Elks team that finished second in the American Legion World Series. Baseball Card Database

David Dinelli (Folsom High School, Sierra College) will participate in an historic event Tuesday night when for the first time a human won’t call balls and strikes in a baseball game.

When the right-hander starts for Vallejo against host San Rafael in a Pacific Association game at Albert Park, there won’t be an umpire behind the plate. Instead, the independent-league teams will be at the mercy of a computerized video system calling balls and strikes.

Calls will be made by the Pitch F/X system, which judges the speed and trajectory of a pitch as it crosses the plate. The system forms a triangular effect by using two cameras atop the grandstands along the baselines and one behind the center-field fence.

MLB Network analyst and former major leaguer Eric Byrnes will be the on-site “strike-zone umpire” for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games. He will oversee the computer system and relay ball-and-strike calls to the players and fans.

Youth-league memories

Following last week’s column about championship youth teams, many emails supported the Carmichael Elks American Legion team that was runner-up at the 1985 World Series in Kokomo, Ind.

Carmichael (40-6) was loaded with future professional players. Infielder Dave Hajek (San Juan) and left-handers Pat Gomez (San Juan) and Jerry Nielsen (Jesuit, Sacramento City) played in the major leagues. Outfielders Bobby Jones (Del Campo, Sacramento City) and Deryk Gross (Del Campo, Sacramento City), catcher Mike Musolino (Jesuit, Sacramento City) and right-hander Clyde Keller (Del Campo, Sacramento City) were minor leaguers.

En route to the final, Keller beat Midlothian, Va., 1-0 on a one-hitter; Ned Heitz, Hajek and Musolino homered in a 15-3 win over Omaha, Neb., and Gross had a grand slam in a 17-14 victory over West Covina.

Needing one win against Midlothian for the title, Carmichael sent Keller, sporting a 16-0 record, to the mound but lost 8-4. Midlothian won the decisive game 3-2.

“We weren’t ready the first game,” said Jones, who was awarded the slugger trophy for the highest average (.500) and the James F. Daniel Jr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award. “I don’t think we were trying as hard as we should have. We thought we had it won with Clyde pitching.”

Many of the team’s players made The Bee’s All-Metro teams. Gross was selected in 1984, Keller, Musolino, Jones and Hajek in 1985 and Gomez in 1986. Keller earned the Player of the Year honor in 1985, compiling a 10-2 record and 0.97 ERA.

Among the other emails was one from Milo Gardner of Fair Oaks. He said: “Youth leagues don’t grow major-league baseball players. Families do.”

Indeed. Names like Forsch, Westlake, Sax, Brown, Lee, Oliver, Nyman, Bowa, Johnson, Royster and Vaughn are combinations of relatives who played in the major leagues.

Buzz Berriesford, whose pitching prowess as an 11-year-old in 1944 was a column topic, recalled his era.

“Baseball was the game in Sacramento,” said Berriesford, 82, who pitched in the minors in 1952. “Many of us grew up with baseball as a dream of our future. In my final year at Sac High, we tied for the championship with McClatchy. Some of us went to Sacramento Junior College, where we were state champions in 1951. Then I was drafted into the Army.

“Unfortunately, that two-year interruption didn’t help my pro career. My playing days ended in the Sacramento Winter League, where the minor leaguers and best bush leaguers competed. What wonderful memories.”

Et cetera

▪ Richmond right-hander Joe Biagini (UC Davis) started for the West in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 15 in Portland, Maine. The game ended 4-4 after nine innings, but the East won in the first Home Run Derby tiebreaker. Reading first baseman Brock Stassi (Yuba City) participated in the postgame and regularly scheduled pregame Home Run Derbies but didn’t homer in either competition.

▪ Designated for assignment were right-hander Preston Guilmet (Oakmont) by the Los Angeles Dodgers and second baseman Ty Kelly (UC Davis) by St. Louis. Kelly was claimed by Toronto.

▪ Minnesota promoted outfielder Austin Diemer (Rocklin) to Class-A Cedar Rapids, St. Louis elevated catcher Riley Drongesen (Granite Bay) to Class-A Short-Season State College, and Philadelphia promoted reliever Sutter McLoughlin (Rio Americano, Sacramento State) to Class-A Short-Season Williamsport.

▪ Cleveland placed outfielder Nathan Lukes (Center, Sacramento State) on the Reserve List.

Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball: