Baseball has returned to Patton Field, Fort Bragg High School's diamond in the woods. The decades-old ballfield, shaded by 60-foot redwoods, is named for Bill Patton, a longtime high school coach. Within a few blocks, there's Piver Field and Pavioni Field, also named for local baseball icons.
Fort Bragg actually has a “storied history” in baseball. The town team — the Loggers of course — is more than a century old now and persists — nearly all in Spanish now — as part of the North Coast men's baseball league.
The Fort Bragg High School Timberwolves took a year off for COVID, but there were 100 or so spectators last Friday for their game against the Kelseyville Pirates. Fans spread out across the bleachers, down the right field line and behind the outfield fence. The game turned out to be a pitchers duel — the Wolves won 2-1, and are 3-0 in the North Central League so far — so there was plenty of time to chat.
Tony “The Mic” Anderson announced the game from his perch behind home plate. Tony announces pretty much all the sports there is to announce in Fort Bragg — he's added track meets to his repertoire this year — so he has his finger on the pulse of local athletics as much as anyone. The year off, he said, hurt.
“It's the whole social thing for me,” he said Friday. “That got taken away. Sports runs in my veins. I bleed purple… Thank God for the Food Bank.”
Anderson did not mean he ate his way out of sports deprivation. He volunteers at the Food Bank and got his humanity fix there. Plus he wakes up at 3 a.m. to watch Korean baseball — not everyone is like Tony.
But a lot of people have been missing sporting events in Fort Bragg like he does. Sports really is a social glue in an entertainment-deprived yet diverse community. There's something about cheering for the T’wolves that makes everything else seem less important for the moment.
Fort Bragg's City Council last week succeeded in splitting the apple, so to speak, on the question of whether to impose a 45-day moratorium on chain store development. Two slightly different retailers, Grocery Outlet and Dollar General, are vying to get into Fort Bragg, and some people don't want their ilk. However, it is illegal to outlaw stores in your town because of their “ilk.”
The chain store issue is not new to Fort Bragg — Autozone tried unsuccessfully in 2019 and some on the council wanted to put the brakes on the new proposals. The vote got complicated because the location Grocery Outlet wants is in the Coastal Zone, and the Dollar General location isn't. Fort Bragg — like every other coastal town — actually has two general plans, one for the Coastal Zone, and one for “inland.” Rules changes in the coastal plan can take up to two years for the Coastal Commission to approve, so a moratorium to write rules changes presented a pretty major slowdown on a project (Grocery Outlet) that many people in Fort Bragg enthusiastically support. The council gave a thumbs down to that moratorium.
The location of the project that people aren't as obviously enthusiastic about, Dollar General, is covered by the inland plan. The council did put a moratorium there, establishing a 45-day hold on approval of chain stores. Any part of the process up to approval can continue, so it's really not much of a delay, while the council gets a month and a half to devise — if it chooses to — requirements for chain businesses, which Dollar General would have to meet.
Earth Day arrived early at Pudding Creek Sunday in the form of a small pavilion on the Haul Road in front of the Beachcomber Motel.
The day was gray and chilly — reassuring after the balmy, nearly rainless “spring” the coast has seen so far.
Esme Plascencia, Lori LaGasse and Jeanne Smith were spreading the word and passing out trash bags — the event was an Earth Day beach cleanup. The trio had enlisted 30 or so impromptu volunteers in the first hour or so.
LaGasse is a board member for the Mendocino Land Trust; she's also a local gradeschool teacher and longtime co-owner of the Pacific Environmental Education Center, that over the years showed thousands of inland schoolkids the coast's outdoors. Smith has been education director at The Woodlands for more than 20 years, and is debuting a whole new set of post-COVID Woodlands teaching experiences, as well as opening the place to the camping public for the first time through Hipcamp.
Plascencia is the newcomer to environmental education, but she has a pretty strong background too. The 2018 Fort Bragg High School grad is studying Outdoor Recreation at CSU Sacramento. COVID made her decide to work from Fort Bragg this year (she still calls it “home”), which gave her a chance to get an early start on her internship with the land trust.
Plascencia plans to develop a Latino Outdoors chapter on the coast. The national program is focused on getting Latino youth into nature, and Plascencia said growing up in Fort Bragg helped her see the possibilities.
“A lot of the things kids do here are just naturally in the outdoors,” she said “but sometimes we take it for granted.”
The focus will be on group activities, she said — backpacking, kayaking, day hikes, cleaning up a beach.
Anyone — latino or not — interested in Esme's efforts can contact her at email@example.com
All roads led to Carole A. McDonnell Gymnasium at Mendocino High School gym last Thursday as the county's rolling COVID vaccination caravan arrived and knocked out 400 shots in two hours.
Local volunteers made sure lines went smoothly and county public health workers — who are clearly getting the hang of these pop-up events on the coast — were calm and collected. Last week's was the third major coast vaccination gala sponsored by the county, the others in Caspar and Little River, covering nearly 1000 people between them now. Mendocino Coast Clinics has been doing regular drive-through vaccinations and targeted efforts vaccinating hundreds more.
Longtime coast nurse Dawn Hofberg was one of those administering shots last week. She's been on board for numerous COVID-related efforts over the past year, as have several other of the coast's longtime nurses.
“These things have become my social life,” Hofberg said, cheerfully preparing for another shot.
Mendocino High's lacrosse club has survived the COVID hiatus. While the masses gathered for their vaccinations in the gym last Thursday, the MHS squad went through some high energy drills on the playing field below.
Principal and lacrosse coach Tobin Hahn was fieldside, collecting sticks and helmets with the help of a pint-sized daughter. Hahn's dad, Dr. Donald Hahn, brought lacrosse to Mendocino in the mid-1950s, when he arrived to start his career as a small town doctor- this after helping win a national lacrosse championship for Princeton during a college career for which Donald Hahn has been called “the finest lacrosse player of his era.”
Doctor Hahn planted a love for lacrosse in a quite a few hearts along the Mendocino Coast during his 40+ years as a local doctor, not least in son Tobin's. During his nearly 20 years now as a math teacher and now high school principal, Hahn and his crew of lacrosse die-hards has kept the game alive, forming clubs at middle and high schools, playing against youth squads anywhere between Roseville and San Rafael.
There won't be an actual lacrosse season, Hahn said, but inter-squad scrimmages and the possibility of a team out there somewhere that's willing to play is enough to keep things going for another year.