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Did You Know… ? Ventura County Baseball

Did you know… that Ventura County has a long and rich history of baseball?

dyk-baseball-hall 1912

Carlos Luis “Charley” Hall of Ventura pitched in the 1912 World Series for the Boston Red Sox

“Play ball!” – two words shouted time and again throughout Ventura County and two words synonymous with the game of baseball.

Teams like the Filmore Merchants and the Ventura Nationals filled the long-gone baseball stadium that once occupied the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Even the West Coast barnstorming tours of the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox came through in the early 1900s. These teams included Hall-of-Famers Fred Snodgrass, an Oxnard resident, slugger Tris Speaker and pitcher Christy Mathewson. Even baseball great Babe Ruth made his way through the area and, according to local legend, played in Ventura.

Homegrown talent

While professional teams did not succeed locally, our county has grown a pretty large crop of baseball players over the years.

Just a few of the local Ventura County athletes that played professional baseball include (in alphabetical order):

  • Jack Burnett of Ventura, 1907
  • Chris Codiroli of Oxnard, 1982
  • Jim Colborn of Santa Paula, 1969
  • Jacob Cruz of Oxnard, 1996
  • Randy Elliott of Oxnard, 1972
  • Carlos Luis “Charley” Hall of Ventura, 1906
  • Ed Hearne of Ventura, 1910
  • Howard Hilton of Oxnard, 1990
  • Steve Hovley of Ventura, 1969
  • Eric King of Oxnard, 1986
  • Noah Lowry of Ventura, 2003
  • Matt Magill of Simi Valley, 2013
  • Ken McMullen of Oxnard, 1962
  • Randy Miller of Oxnard, 1977
  • Bryan Peterson of Agoura, 2010
  • Chad Smith of Thousand Oaks, 2014
  • And many more

The love of the game

Ventura County has had a long love affair with baseball. Consider the following:

    The 1902 Ventura Juniors

    The 1902 Ventura Juniors

  • About 11,500 boys and girls play organized baseball in the county.
  • Ventura County has produced over a thousand professional players since the inception of the game. All these boys grew up playing baseball in Ventura County and went on to play in the major leagues.
  • Carlos Luis “Charley” Hall of Ventura, the first recorded professional player from Ventura County, pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 1906 and also pitched in the 1912 World Series for the Boston Red Sox.

7 Comments

  1. Howdy!
    Regarding Snodgrass: When I grew up as a kid on Taft avenue in east Ventura in the early 1960’s baseball was my one game every day after school and play little league at Anacapa’s field with the Foster Freeze team. Even got a signed ball from Don Drysdale at the grand opening of the Ventura Savings and Loan on Mills Road (Union Bank today).
    Now as I understood it Snodgrass grew up in a small farm house on the north side of Telegraph Rd. half way between Victoria Ave and Kimball Rd. The house is now gone. You have Snodgrass as having lived in Oxnard but I wonder if that info that I grew up with is correct that Snodgrass was from Ventura? …..or was it some relatives to Snodgrass that lived there in the lemon orchards?
    Appreciate any info you might have.
    Cheers!
    Rickard Willebrand
    Stockholm, Sweden

    • Actually, your memory and our article are both correct! Snodgrass was born in Ventura, so he WAS a resident of Ventura. But he also spent the first 20+ years of his post-baseball career living in Oxnard. So he WAS a resident of Oxnard. In fact, he was elected to Oxnard’s city council and was even appointed mayor. After resigning as mayor he moved back to Ventura, where he bought a ranch and grew lemons and walnuts. So you’re right again, Rickard! You can check out the whole story on Fred Snodgrass at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/38dceecc.

  2. You’ve not listed Oxnard’s Terry Pendleton, Dmitri or Delmon Young or Denver Lemaster, who all had significant careers. Pendleton, a Channel Islands High grad, was National MVP with the Braves.

    Some players wound up in V County in retirement, notably Reds manager Sparky Anderson and Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart, Outfielder Mike McCormick, who officiated local basketball games, and Frenchy Bordagaray, who worked for the Ventura city recreation department.

    • Hey, thanks for the additional names. You’ve just verified some of the “And many more” part of the list!

      • Yes, there are more… from old-time pitcher Alex Ferguson of Camarillo, who played with Babe Ruth, to catchers Mike Lieberthal and Robert Fick, or one favorite, Jim Hibbs of Ventura, who had one at bat for the Angels.

        • Great stuff. Thanks!

          • Just discovered the Ventura County Gulls, who played one season in the California League 1987. All home games at Ventura College with no lights. Players included pitchers David Wells and Todd Stottlemyre Jr., catcher Greg Myers, infielder Eric Yelding and outfielder Rob Ducey. They had a winning record and finished 3rd.

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