YOUNTVILLE – There is a new look to Cleve Borman Field, the home of the Napa Valley Baseball Club.
Located at the Veterans Home of California, the historic ballpark features a new pitcher’s mound, new bullpen mounds, and new padding behind the home-plate area.
One of the biggest improvements was the installation of new netting, which replaces the cyclone fence, behind the plate.
New sod was also put down along the first- and third-base lines, as well as other areas of the infield.
“The field is really coming along and it’s in great shape,” said Matt Leachman, president of the Napa Valley Baseball Club, which has four age-group teams and is affiliated with American Legion Baseball. “We’ve been working hard on it.
“It looks fantastic. It’s ready for a lot of baseball this year.”
Work has also been done on trying get the field to drain better after it rains. Volunteer groundkeepers take care of the facility. A new tarp covers the pitcher’s mound.
“The changes that we’ve made here are going to last a long time with the netting and the backstop and the new mound,” said Leachman. “We’re real happy with how it’s come along.”
It took two days to take down the cyclone fencing and another two days to put in the netting in January. Community Projects, Inc., of Napa donated $8,000 to the NVBC so the organization could purchase the netting material and have it put in. Additional donations have been from the Veterans Home of California.
“It was quite a project,” said Leachman, adding that the entire cost for the field improvements was around $15,000. “That cyclone fence was problematic, what was going on with it. It was starting to deteriorate. It was time for this.”
American Legion Post 113 in Napa is a sponsor of the NVBC, which draws it players from Napa, American Canyon and St. Helena.
The late Daryl Horn, a coach with the NVBC, was closely involved with the project for new netting.
Daryl Horn and his youngest son, Joe, an eighth-grade student at Redwood Middle School, and two others died on Nov. 25, 2017 when the vehicle that they were in was involved in a hit-and-run crash in San Pablo. Daryl Horn’s brother-in-law, Troy Biddle, and Daryl’s nephew, Baden Biddle, from Bainbridge Island, Washington, were also killed in the five-vehicle crash on Interstate 80 at the San Pablo Dam Road exit.
Daryl Horn was 50. His son, Joe, was 14.
Daryl Horn was a software sales executive who found time to coach and manage Napa Little League baseball teams and serve on the board for 13 years. He was a board member with the Napa Valley Baseball Club.
He also managed the 13-and-under Napa Valley Baseball Club team last year and was the manager of the Napa Niners, a traveling baseball team that played in tournaments around the Bay Area from 2012-2016.
Joe Horn played seven years of Napa Little League, moving from rookie ball to the majors. He played for the 13U Napa Valley Baseball Club team last year.
Each of the players on the NVBC’s four teams – seventh- and eighth-grade teams, 17-and-under junior American Legion, 19-and-under senior American Legion – will wear hats with Daryl Horn and Joe Horn’s initials on them.
“Our eighth grade team is playing right now. They took the field in January,” said Leachman. “Joe would have been playing on that team.”
One of top ballparks
The NVBC has a lease agreement with CalVet-State of California to use Borman Field, one of the top ballparks for youth baseball in the country. In 2013, MaxPreps.com recognized Borman Field as one of “10 of America’s coolest high school baseball venues.”
“That famous Napa Valley weather and its world-famous scenery are part of the draw at Cleve Borman Field. What makes it even cooler is that it has a historic feel, and holds a special place in the hearts of many veterans,” Leland Gordon of MaxPreps.com wrote in the 2013 piece.
Borman Field has covered grandstands and ivy on the outfield fences, giving fans a close-up view of the action, with the backdrop of oak trees and vineyards. Only daytime baseball is played at Borman Field, as the facility does not have lights.
Borman Field went through an extensive renovation back in 2008, thanks to the work of Brady Mitchell of the NVBC. The picturesque ballpark got a new scoreboard, dugouts, bullpens and foul poles, and the infield was rebuilt.
Napa and Vintage will meet on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Borman Field in the first Big Game of the 2018 season.
Spring and summer season
Matt Leachman and Scott Ghisletta are the coaches for the 19U Senior American Legion team, which is tentatively scheduled to open its spring-summer season on May 12 with a doubleheader against the Fairfield Expos at Borman Field.
Jason Schnaible and Jacob Ray Sr. are the coaches for the 17U Junior American Legion team.
Jacob Ray Sr. is the coach for the U14 team. Mike O’Dell and Jason Hall are the coaches for the 13U team.
The NVBC will sometimes play Connie Mack games as a 16-and-under team.
Northern California Tournament Baseball will put on a showcase event for the top eighth graders on April 20 and 21 at Borman Field. The 120 players who will be playing in the event will stay overnight in the barracks at the Veterans Home, located near the ballpark.
The NVBC’s 19U team will play in the Area 1 Southern Division of American Legion, which also includes the Fairfield Expos, Petaluma Leghorns, Yolo Post 77 (Davis and Woodland), Yuba City Legion, Santa Rosa Legion, Mendocino Dirtbags (Ukiah and Cloverdale), Haggin-Grant (Sacramento), Golden State Tigers (Oakland), and Diablo Longhorns (Walnut Creek).
The NVBC’s 19U team is also entered in the 21st annual Western Amateur Baseball Federation Championship Tournament, scheduled for July 4-8 at Laurel Creek Park in Fairfield.
The Joe DiMaggio Baseball League will host a Fourth of July tournament at Borman Field.
The state senior American Legion Tournament is July 26-29 and the state junior Legion Tournament is August 2-5. Both are at Borman Field.
The 2018 baseball season began in January for its 13U and 14U teams.
There will be about 120 games played at Borman Field this year, said Leachman, who is a 1977 Napa High graduate and a Napa resident.
“It’s going to be a lot of baseball,” he said. “We’ve had a good amount of baseball played here in January, February and March.”
The NVBC also offers a fall ball program, which begins in August and goes through September or mid-October.
The concession area for Borman Field offers barbecue tri tip and barbecue chicken, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken Caesar salad, ice cream, fountain drinks, wine and beer.