Hometown Report

Yogi Berra and 1951 Yankees made impression in visit to Sacramento

Yogi Berra passed away Tuesday at age 90.
Yogi Berra passed away Tuesday at age 90. The Associated Press

Yogi Berra, who died Tuesday at age 90, captained the star-studded Yankees teams of the late 1940s into the early 60s and was a fan-favorite when New York played the Sacramento Solons in an exhibition game at Edmonds Field in 1951.

In the midst of their first West Coast swing on a spring training tour against Pacific Coast League clubs, the Yankees drew sellouts against the Hollywood Stars, Oakland Oaks, San Francisco Seals and Solons.

The Yankees were in a transition period. It was the final season for Joe DiMaggio and the first for 19-year-old Mickey Mantle, a switch hitting shortstop who was converted to an outfielder by manager Casey Stengel. Berra was already a staple to the Yankees’ dynasty at catcher.

Against the Solons, Berra drove in the first run, scoring Phil Rizzuto, and then scored on a Johnny Mize double in an 11-0 rout that included a Mantle home run. The attendance was 10,354, with fans spilling from the stands into the roped-off outfield area by the left-field fence.

I looked at some of those guys – Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra – and thought, ‘Holy mackerel, look who I’m standing next to! I mean, Yogi Berra was my hero. It was a thrill of a lifetime.

Ron Limeberger, a baseball coach at Christian Brothers for 31 seasons who died in 2004. He was a batboy for the Solons in 1951.

The ’51 Yankees went on to beat the New York Giants to win their third of five consecutive World Series. Berra won the American League MVP that season, his first of three in a career that included 18 All-Star selections.

Ron Limeberger, a baseball coach at Christian Brothers High School for 31 seasons who died in 2004, was a batboy for the Solons in 1951 and cherished those memories. He told me years ago how he was in awe of those Yankees.

“I looked at some of those guys – Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra – and thought, ‘Holy mackerel, look who I’m standing next to!’ ” Limeberger recalled. “I mean, Yogi Berra was my hero. It was a thrill of a lifetime.”

UCD runner dies

Sarah Sumpter, who continued to compete in cross country and track and field at UC Davis while battling cancer, died Monday. She was 25.

Sumpter set school distance-running records and earned All-America honors in 2012, a year after sitting out the season after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Sumpter said in 2010 that the most difficult part of her diagnosis was a doctor’s order not to run, telling ESPNW, “running is my religion. It is who I am. It defines me.” Upon her return, Sumpter improved her lifetime bests.

Miller time

UCLA’s Kolton Miller (Roseville High School) saw his first extensive action last Saturday, starting in the second half at right tackle against UNLV. The 6-foot-9, 295-pound redshirt freshman drew accolades from lineman teammate Caleb Benenoch in August, with Benenoch saying: “I think he’s going to be a superstar when he leaves here.”

DeMure to Penn St.

Granite Bay High volleyball star Emily Rose DeMure will sign a letter of intent with Penn State, the top-ranked team in the country. DeMure is a 6-foot-2 outside hitter and setter.

Lions honors

Members of the 1992-93 McClatchy boys basketball team will be inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 24. That team, coached by Harvey Tahara, won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship and was led by the “Big Three” of center Andre Speech and guards Brian Hamilton and Marlon Johnson.

6 Section finals appearances for Elk Grove under coach Jeff Alexander, who announced his resignation

Coach resigns

Jeff Alexander, who coached the Elk Grove softball team to the section finals six times, winning twice, resigned to focus more on family and his work (he owns a pest-control business). Elk Grove, top ranked by The Bee most of last season, will now be coached by longtime assistant Amanda Buck.

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