John Shackford

John Shackford, second from right, is joined by, from left, Rudy Chery, general manager of Shackford’s Kitchen Store; Patrick Merkley, co-owner of Shackford’s Kitchen Store; and Tito Fuentes Jr., a team owner and manager of the Napa Silverados.

The Napa Silverados will honor John Shackford, a former longtime Napa Valley business owner, on Saturday, June 15 when they face Salina Stockade in a Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs game at Napa Valley College’s Storm Field.

The Silverados, who are starting their second season of independent league baseball, announced that Shackford will sign a one-day contract on Wednesday, May 29, his 90th birthday, to co-manage the Napa team in next month’s regular season game.

Shackford, a sponsor of the Silverados during their inaugural season in 2018, will sign the player-coach contract during a taping of “The Arty Party Hour,” a show on Napa Valley TV-Channel 28. The show has a rebroadcast on Saturdays at 10 p.m.

Shackford will co-manage the Silverados with Tito Fuentes Jr., who is a team owner and Napa’s manager.

“With independent baseball, we’re allowed to do certain things, because we’re independently owned, so we can do things like this,” Fuentes said last week. “And this is one of the things that we think is a good thing for the community and our joint sponsorship together.

“It’s a celebration. Mr. Shackford is humble, but he is an icon. For the Silverados, it’s about Mr. Shackford’s day, celebrating him, and continuing a relationship with Patrick (Merkley) and the Shackford family store.”

The Silverados are promoting the day as “Shackford’s 90th Home Run.”

The Napa Silverados’ players, coaches and staff, including Shackford, will wear jerseys, each with No. 90. The front of the jersey will read, “Shackford’s Kitchen Store, Napa.”

There will be pre-game ceremonies honoring Shackford, who owned Shackford’s Kitchen Store for 43 years. The game starts at 1:05 p.m.

“His role is going to be managing that day,” said Fuentes. “He will have a uniform that he’s going to wear. He is part of the team.”

Terms and details of the contract were not disclosed.

“He’ll have a one-day paid contract,” said Fuentes. “We’ll work together.”

Patrick Merkley and his wife, Alix Merkley, bought Shackford’s and took over as the new owners on Oct. 24, 2018. Shackford’s is a sponsor of the Silverados, who will play a 64-game schedule.

The San Rafael Pacifics, Vallejo Admirals and Sonoma Stompers also play in the Northern California-based summer league, founded in 2013. It is an independent league with no affiliation to Major League Baseball.

Salina Stockade is a travel team and will play all of its games on the road, the league said. The team’s roster will consist of players that played for the Salina Stockade in the CanAm League in 2018 as well as players who played in the Pecos League in 2018, the league said in a report at pacproclubs.pointstreaksites.com.

“Over the 43 years, Mr. Shackford and Mrs. (Donna) Shackford were huge supporters of baseball and Little League and youth sports in the area,” said Patrick Merkley. “Not only did their kids play in a ton of different leagues, but they would sponsor the teams. If you come to the store, we still have a lot of the trophies and the plaques still in the side window.

“Buying the store, we’re trying to keep that tradition up, so we’re sponsoring, under Mr. Shackford’s name, a couple of different (local youth) teams right now.”

John Shackford, who is originally from East Los Angeles, said it gives him a great deal of pride to join the Silverados’ team for their game. He played sandlot baseball growing up, but never any organized baseball.

“I’ve always been interested in baseball,” said Shackford. “It’s a team effort. You have to be able to work together. I think that’s what impresses me most, is people working together.”

Shackford spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain. He was a jet fighter pilot, flying F-84s, F-86s and F-100s.

A St. Helena resident, he is still active in aviation, with the Napa Airport Pilots’ Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

“What we want to try to do is get all of the players that played on his Little League teams to come out and support him, as a recognition of what he has done for them,” said Patrick Merkley. “I think it’s a great way for the community to show Mr. Shackford how beloved he is and how involved he is in the community.

“It’s just going to be a great community day and a great way to thank Mr. Shackford and the Shackford family for their support, and being so committed to the business in the Valley and in Napa.”

John Shackford was in the aviation business, working at a flying school in Vacaville and for Bridgeford Flying Service out of Napa County Airport.

He was a civilian pilot for 24 years.

His wife, Donna Shackford, died in December of 2017. Donna Shackford was 86.

The Shackfords have four children – John Shackford, Mark Shackford, Tom Shackford and Laura Lewis – along with nine grandchildren and 13 great children.

Napa Silverados Notes

* Spring training for the Silverados began on Saturday and continues through May 20 at Napa Valley College’s Storm Field.

* The 2019 season opener for Napa is on May 31 at Vallejo.

Napa’s home opener is June 1 against Salina.

* The new ownership group for the Silverados consists of Fuentes, his wife, Alma Eugenio Fuentes, and David Halloran.

Alma Fuentes is the Silverados’ general manager. Halloran, the owner of Sound Advice, a Napa company that handles electronics, electrical, computer networks and home theater, is responsible for operations, project management and sponsorships.

Halloran, Alma and Tito Fuentes are longtime Napa residents.

* Napa won its final game of the regular season in late August, 14-4 over the Vallejo Admirals. But the Silverados did not move on to the postseason after finishing in fifth place with a 31-49 record.

* The San Rafael Pacifics won the title last year, shutting out the host Sonoma Stompers, 6-0, at Palooza Park at Arnold Field.

* For more information, go to silveradosbaseball.com.

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Executive Sports Editor

Executive Sports Editor Marty James has been with the Napa Valley Register since 1979. He is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors, California Prep Sportswriters Association, and the California Golf Writers Association. He was inducted into the