Manteca beat Major League Baseball to the punch.
Reports that the Oakland A’s are considering placing cutouts of fans in the stands when the abbreviated 60-game season starts later this month minus spectators is something Big League Dreams did in Manteca 13 years ago.
The City of Manteca owned sports complex on Milo Candi Drive off of Daniels Street has six replica MLB fields such as Fenway Park. Each field has pseudo bleachers along the outfields. They are photographic wraps of the images of various Manteca residents taken back in 2007 and merged together to create a crowd.
Those in the bleachers paid $30 apiece — the money went to support recreation programs for low-income youth — to have their images plastered in the outfield.
The photos were shot using a solo stadium seat in the City Council chambers against a solid green backdrop. A number of people brought their own props — baseball gloves, bags of peanuts and such. Some opted just to sit and smile. Others pumped their fist, pointed, clapped, or looked as if they were cheering.
The BLD complex isn’t the only place in Manteca you can find images of fans filling bleachers.
Likeness of Manteca
residents also in the
baseball mural bleachers
The other is the 138-foot by 7-foot-8 mural commissioned by the Manteca Mural Society at Library Park. It has 92 spectators. Each face on the mural was painted by muralist Dave Gordon with each person depicted being about two feet from the waist to the top of their head.
It cost $25 unless, of course, you wanted preferred seating. Then it was $50. The faces were those of either the person making the donation or that of a friend of a loved one. The money helped defray the cost of the mural commemorating Manteca’s first baseball field.
The likeness of one person appeared in the mural at no charge. That person is William Perry — the Post Office worker who took a sabbatical from working in 1935 to build Manteca’s version of the Field of Dreams on a vacant downtown lot where Library Park is today.
Perry financed and built the bleachers and field as a way to provide a place of entertainment, recreation, and pride for the community that was reeling in the depths of the Great Depression.
It is not, by the way, the Bill Perry who served as mayor in the late 1990s. Growing up there was confusion between the two as they went to school at the same time prompting the man who helped rally the community around baseball to have people call him “the other” Bill Perry.
The mural depicts the final inning of a girls’ game. Lined up alongside the third base fence line are the boys who are waiting to take te field next. On the other opposite fence line are more spectators as well as a passing engine of a Tidewater Southern Railway train.
A runner is positioned to score from third while a right-handed batter is awaiting a pitch. There is a dog that cases down balls and retrieves them depicted in the mural. Gordon said that was a touch that reflected the fact there were no outfield fences.
The baseball mural is one of five murals at Library Park along a path dubbed “the history walk.”
The other four murals are:
*“The Yokuts Indians” by Terri Pasquini: The mural will show a family of Native Americans whose ancestral lands are in and around Manteca gathered around the evening campfire listening to the story of creation.
*“The Pioneers” by Jessie Marinas: The mural depicts the hard struggle to make a living and provide for the family that was faced by farmers that settled the Manteca area before irrigation was developed.
*“Agriculture” by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna: The mural portrays the bountiful harvests and once Manteca farming came into its own with irrigation.
*”Industry” by Brian Romagnoli: The mural will depict images of industry from Manteca.
The other four murals are 32 feet wide by 8 feet high.
The Library Park expansion in 2008 was designed to have murals be an integral part of the experience of using the park.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com