Good old-fashioned baseball is back in Redding for the summer, but it’s being played at the new and-improved Tiger Field.
The idyllic crack of a baseball being smacked by a wooden bat is, thankfully, the same, but other changes are afoot at the downtown home of the Redding Colt 45s.
Former big-league ballplayer Rick Bosetti has signed on to manage the Colt 45s this summer and he has made it his mission to add a sense of professionalism to both the team and—with the help of team General Manager Paul Barrington—the ballpark.
Venerable Tiger Field, which has served generations of ballplayers since its construction in 1923, is undergoing an upgrade to complement the new-look Colt 45s. Seating has been expanded to accommodate 650 fans and the bleacher section behind the backstop will soon be covered by a 5,200-square-foot shade structure.
The masonry wall along the west side of the stadium has been removed to make way for new fencing that creates an expansive, grassy beer garden and food court. A permanent bathroom in adjoining South City Park, which was steam-cleaned, bleached and painted last week, will be incorporated into the area and reserved for spectators only.
For added protection, Bosetti—who doubles as Redding’s mayor—said the bathroom, beer garden and food court area will be patrolled by North State Security during all games. The best part, he said, was that none of the improvements were paid for with tax dollars.
Instead, north state businesses like Shasta Regional Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center have chipped in. Bosetti said an anonymous donor, obviously stricken with a case of Colt 45 fever, arranged to purchase 50 tickets to each game to be distributed to children from low income families.
Bosetti, who previously coached the Simpson University Redhawks, is looking for on-field improvements as well. He described his squad of college-level players as “big, strong and physical.” As soon as he gets a handle on his players’ abilities, Bosetti said he’ll seek to foster a hard-charging style of play.
“We’re going to be running and hitting and hitting and running. We’re going to have pitchers attacking hitters and hitters attacking pitchers,” said Bosetti, who played professionally from 1976 to 1982, including four years with the Toronto Bluejays and two years with the Oakland A’s.
The Colt 45s are part of the Far West League, an association of eight teams with the goal of providing top-level collegiate players the opportunity to compete and improve their skills during the summer break. The Colt 45s roster includes players from Notre Dame, New Mexico State, Michigan State, UC Davis, Simpson University and several junior colleges.
Gage Matuszak, a lanky first baseman from the University of Utah, said he’s looking forward to his two months in Redding and the chance to get to know his new teammates. His summer goal?
“To get a lot of at-bats.”
As a 2011 graduate of Shasta High, Cameron Cole is no stranger to Tiger Field but the Simpson University sophomore said he’s excited to see the improvements. “Hopefully they’ll get rid of that ‘Tiger hop,’” Cole said, referring to the field’s sometimes uneven infield surface that can turn a ground ball into an adventure.
Brad Copeland drove his son, Alex, to Redding from Broken Arrow, Okla., to get a look at the facilities and help Alex get situated with his host family. Copeland said the family in Anderson hosted one of Alex’s friends last summer and they still keep in contact. Alex Copeland plays for a community college in Fort Scott, Kansas.
The Colt 45s season started Friday. The Colts square off against the Redding Tigers at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and host the Walnut Creek Crawdads at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tickets are $5, adults; $3, seniors and students with ID cards; $2, children under 12. Visit www.reddingcolt45s.com for more information.
Story and photos by Jon Lewis.
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.