In the 1960s and 70s, Del Webb Field was home to the Modesto Reds (later the Modesto A's). Some of baseball's greats played in this rundown old "stadium," including the 1962 World Series teams, the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. They came to town during the series to practice in the only well-drained field in the area when rain delayed the World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

 

What surprises people are the names of players who, during their careers, managed to make their way through the farm system, sometimes starting in Modesto. Surely you've heard of Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Ricky Henderson, Jason Giambi, Joe Rudi, etc., etc.

 

Often, local residents wonder why they didn't attend more games to see the beginnings of a great baseball career. Even Sparky Anderson was involved with the Modesto Reds as their manager in the early 1960s.

 

The ramshackle Del Webb Field was renamed at some point for local politican, John Thurman. And at some point the California League threatened to pull the Modesto A's out of town if the stadium wasn't brought up to league standards.

 

Miraculously, the City of Modesto, not known for extravagances, decided to spend $3 million dollars to refurbish Thurman Field. They must have done the right thing, because attendance soared and the Modesto A's became one of the most successful franchises in the league, with record-breaking attendance each year since.

 

Of course, this year, the once mighty Modesto Reds and Modesto A's have become a Colorado Rockies' franchise and will be known as the Modesto Nuts. Go figure!

 

A story of interest, in light of today's desire to have Japanese players on teams, is the fact that the Modesto Reds became one of the first baseball clubs to field an all-Japanese-American team in 1949. Click on this link to read the story.

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