Stompers visit San Quentin Giants, come away with change in perspective

 Members of the Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club staff and team gather outside of San Quentin State Prison Saturday. 

Members of the Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club staff and team gather outside of San Quentin State Prison Saturday. 

Hayley M. Slye / Media and Communications Intern

SAN QUENTIN, Calif.–The Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club, presented by Virginia Dare Winery, played an exhibition game against the San Quentin Giants Saturday.

Manager Takashi Miyoshi had a spot in his own lineup, going 3-5 in addition to a few pitching performances from position players as the Stompers won the game 10-4. Still, those weren’t the most out of the ordinary elements of the experience. The San Quentin Giants are a team made up of prison inmates from San Quentin State Prison.

It was outfielder Matt Hibbert’s second time visiting the prison to play ball, so he had an idea of what to expect.

“It’s not about us playing, it’s more about them,” Hibbert said. “You just see how their faces light up when they get a chance to compete.”

It took the team at least 40 minutes to get to the field as the guards carefully inspected the players’ gloves and IDs, Stompers utility infielder Kevin Farley said. Farley said the team also had to pass through the holding cell, where the bars “clanked behind” them.

Once they got there, players said the yard bubbled with energy.

“The most surprising thing for me was how in good spirits all the guys were,” Farley said. “It felt like little league again because the other team was just pumped the entire game.”

The field was surrounded by an audience of other inmates and flanked by athletic activity on all sides.

“There were very few times when I was there where I would stop and think ‘what’s this guy in here for,’” Farley said. “There wasn’t anything tipping you off”

“To invite us in there and allow us to really see the way they live and how they got there, to tell us their stories, it’s kind of eye-opening because you understand that it does take one mistake,” said Stompers Catcher Isaac Wenrich.

The Giants also had some “trick plays,” Hibbert said.

“They kept on picking us off on base because we’d be in a conversation with them and they’d run a play and get us out,” Hibbert said. “It’s a great experience and I hope we can continue to go out there every year. It’s one of those moments that makes you really thankful and grateful for where you’re at.”

The defending Pacific Association champion Stompers will open the season on the road Friday against the Pittsburg Diamonds. 

“The smallest little things are things that we take for granted that they wish they could do,” Farley said. “Something as little as being able to come home and lay down on the couch and talk to their family is something they don’t get to do.”


Opening Day at Peoples Home Equity Ballpark at Arnold Field is June 13. Tickets and merchandise are available now either online, at the fan shop at 234 W Napa Street or at the box office on game day.

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For more information, contact the front office at 707-938-7277.