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Jim Hunt

Jim Hunt, contributing sports writer

Register file photo

Editor’s note: Jim Hunt’s reputation as a voracious researcher and sports historian became even clearer when the St. Helena Star learned that – before he died in June – he had written enough copies of “On This Date Plus” to last through 2020. So, rather than letting this series die with him, we decided to continue running it because, well, it’s what he would’ve wanted.

1947: The Blue Sox beat VFW Post 337 on Carpy Field 8-1. Aldo “Mike” Micheli was 4 for 5 with a double and a triple; Fred Beroldo went 2 for 5 and had a home run; Virgil Parodi was 3 for 4 with two doubles. Attillo “Toch” Ghiringhelli was the winning pitcher, allowing four hits and striking out nine.

1954: Booker’s Bob’s Cats beat the Sebastopol Times 11-9 in St. Helena. Janet Booker was 3 for 5; Joannie Haus went 2 for 4; and Betty Britton had a double and a home run.

1957: The Carpy Gang beat the Rodeo Athletic Club 14-5 on Carpy Field. Walter Raymond was 2 for 3, Sam Clark 2 for 4, Jim Hunt 3 for 4, and Fred Beringer hit a home run and Tom Blanchfield tripled. Mike Micheli picked up the win, allowing five hits and striking out five.

Plus: Home Sweet Home

For over 60 years, from about 1917 to 1977, St. Helena High School played both baseball and football on fields at the elementary school, and a very comfortable home it was.

When baseball began to be played by the high school in 1908, the first games were held at what the St. Helena Star referred to as “the new field in Hunt’s Grove.”

In 1912, when SHHS relocated to its new home on South Main Street, a single tennis court, a 220-yard track with no curves and ran east to west, and a baseball diamond, were laid out on the grounds behind the main building.

Due to the severely rocky condition of the soil, however, very early on the baseball team began to play some of its home games on a diamond on the elementary (or grammar) school grounds alongside Tainter Street and, throughout the next decade, many of the Saints’ home games were played there.

With the advent of a high school football team in 1924, a gridiron was laid out approximately where the baseball diamond was located with the south sideline paralleling the baseball third-base line.

In spite of the rocky soil conditions, during the first two years of football in 1924-25, all home games were played on the high school field until Sept. 23, 1926, when the Thunderbirds played Martinez High in the first football game ever at the grammar school.

At that time, the football field at that site ran east and west paralleling Tainter Street, with the south sideline exactly on the first base line of the baseball field. From 1926 to the mid-1930s, most of the home football games were played there. The direction of the football field was rotated to run north and south sometime around 1930.

In 1932, a major project to improve the sports facilities at the high school had begun. The rocky ground was replaced with new soil and turf, and the baseball diamond and football fields were relocated behind the new gymnasium, which had been built in 1930.

I believe that at that time, also, a new track, a 440-yard oval, was built out past the baseball and football fields. The new baseball and football facilities then became the site of most of the baseball and football games until the mid-1940s.

In 1937, Al Carpy set out to make some much-needed improvements to the fields at the elementary school. Carpy received $100 donations from 100 people for the project and, as a major part of the improvements, a lighting system was installed for night games. On Oct. 11, 1938, the first football night game in St. Helena history took place with the Saints losing to St. Vincent’s of Vallejo 13-6.

In 1946, Carpy spearheaded another major effort to improve conditions on those fields. This time, raising $12,000 for the project, Carpy had the whole lighting system revamped and bleachers were constructed along the entire length of the west side of the facility. In the spring of 1947, the grammar school field was officially named Carpy Field in honor of the incredible man who created it.

The opening of Carpy Field was celebrated in a special ceremony on the night of April 21, 1947, and, in the first night baseball game ever played in St. Helena, the Saints beat Calistoga 9-2.

I know most people are bored by statistics, but the Saints’ record on Carpy Field is so remarkable it cannot go without recognition. In baseball, the overall win-loss record was 231-96 (.706 win percentage) and, in league play, an even more incredible 147-32 (.821).

Only 32 losses in 65 years means that SHHS lost an average of just one league baseball game on Carpy Field every two years. The football teams, from 1926 to 1973, had a record of 123 wins and 42 losses for a .745 win percentage, and were 52-10 in league play for a .839 mark.

So, finally, if you add all of this up, the Saints’ overall record in baseball and football combined on Carpy Field was 354 wins against 138 losses, a .720 percentage, and a 199-42 record in league play for a .826 win percentage.

As Dorothy once said, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”