Healdsburg history, the start of baseball season, and the efforts of the community to revitalize the baseball field at - it will all finally come together on Friday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m.
Barring a deluge, that is. The Grandstands Dedication Ceremony, held in honor of the late Clarence Ruonavaara at Art McCaffrey Field, was already delayed once from its original March 31 date, due to rain. "We don't want to be rained out twice," event organizer Ray Holley tells us. "Unless it really pours, we'll be going for it."
The pro-size baseball diamond has anchored the Rec Park fields for decades, dating back to the storied Healdsburg Odd Fellows semi-pro team of the 1930s-40s. Ruonavaara played on the team, following World War II, and later on the Prune Packers, the name of the team after 1950. McCaffrey was a high school principal who led the renovation of the field in the 1940s that included installing lights to bring night games to town.
Starting time of the ceremonies will be announced, but it is presumed there will be dedication speeches by County , and others. Nearly all the Healdsburg baseball teams, numbering about 250 players from Little League up through secondary schools and beyond, will be introduced at the ceremony.
The opening games of the Little Leage season will also be played at the field that day, and following the ceremony there will be a varsity baseball game between and El Molino.
It had been hoped that would be in attendance, but he died just a few weeks ago at the age of 92, from an apparent heart attack.
More than 200 volunteers raised over half a million dollars to renovate the stands, upgrade the concession stand and storage areas, and add an indoor bathroom for teams’ use during games.
Concessions for sale will include collectible hats, t-shirts and commemorative pins. Raffle tickets will be sold for two different prize levels; 14 winners from the $1 tickets will get baseballs autographed by major league players including Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Ricky Henderson, Goose Gossage and more.
The $5 raffle tickets will find two winners for an autographed authentic replica of
Orlanda Cepeda’s 1967 St Louis Cardinals road jersey. Prizes will be drawn for during the HHS Greyhounds baseball game that follows the ceremony.
Additional exhibits at the Saturday ceremony will include historical materials from the, which will also be available for viewing at throughout the month of April.
Food from the newly remodeled concession stand, named Kay’s Kitchen, should also be available, as well as coffee and donuts if the rescheduled event is in the morning. Ray Holley, former Healdsburg Tribune editor and columnist, helped coordinate the Rec Park Grandstands renovation project. Local contractor Jerry Eddinger oversaw the construction efforts.