Message from the Mayor: Let’s play ball

Mayor of Martinez

At a special meeting of the Martinez City Council, the license agreement between the city and the Martinez Clippers, LLC was approved. Professional baseball is coming to Martinez, and opening day is Thursday, May 31. The Martinez Clippers will host the Sonoma Stompers at the newly rebuilt Joe DiMaggio Fields at Waterfront Park. Game time is 6:30pm.

This Martinez Field of Dream’s journey began in 2014, when the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs decided it wanted to expand

the league into the East and South Bay and approached Martinez through the Martinez Unified School District. I was invited to meet with the league’s representative, Corey Busch (former executive vice president of the San Francisco Giants); MUSD Trustee John Fuller; MUSD Athletic Director Pat Ertola; and my former colleague on the Martinez City Council, Tim Farley. Everyone was very excited about the possibility of professional baseball in Martinez.

Over the next several weeks, we worked with the new team owners to meet their needs for field and concession spaces. Unfortunately, that oppor- tunity was a bit premature for Martinez since it would be several years before we would start upgrading Waterfront Park. The team held one tryout at Alhambra High School and found a home soon afterwards in Pittsburg. That team is now the Pittsburg Diamonds.

In November of 2016, I received an email from Kevin Reilly. The email had the heading “Baseball in Martinez.” Kevin introduced himself as the owner of the Vallejo Admirals and asked if I was interested in meeting to discuss bringing professional baseball to Martinez. After missing the opportunity to bring a team to Martinez in 2014, I was excited at this second opportunity. The meeting lasted for several hours as we went over the expansion plans of the league, team operations, sponsorships, advertising, concessions, community involvement, and team ownership.

With the help of Leanne Peterson, executive director of Main Street Martinez, we were able to reach out to Jeff and Paulette Carpoff and persuade them to be the new owners of the Martinez team. The next steps were to en- gage the city council, obtain support for the concept, and authorize city staff to work on the project. Over many months and scores of meetings, additional capital improvements were included in the already planned Waterfront Park project.

A large part of what makes a professional baseball team financially successful is the operation of concessions. The beloved Marty O has operated the concession stand at Joe DiMaggio Fields for decades, and the plan with the addition of a professional team was for Marty to continue operating the concessions for the three non-professional fields. The concession operation for the professional team would be under the control of the professional baseball organization. There remained the possibility that the owners could contract with Marty to operate concessions for the professional field, but before any discussions on that possibility occurred, Marty and his wife, Barbara, decided to retire and not exercise their option to continue to operate.

Over the many years that Marty O operated at Joe DiMaggio Fields, he employed hundreds of Martinez teenagers, including my daughter, Sarah. He gave to and supported Martinez non-profit causes and continues to be an icon in the downtown. I expect to see Marty greeting the Martinez community at many of the Martinez Clippers games this summer.

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