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Yuba City Baseball Hall of Fame inducts six members
The Yuba City High baseball program held its inaugural Hall of Fame dinner on Saturday at the Plaza Room in Yuba City as six members were inducted.
The inductees were selected from a pool of former players, coaches and contributors to the baseball program, who exemplified high character on and off the field.
This year's class was Sal Balderrama Jr., Joe Graben, Fred Hawkins, Bob Noreen, Darryl Scott and Jim Stassi.
Balderrama was team captain and played shortstop for the Honkers, graduating in 1966.
In his senior season, Balderrama batted .339 and committed just two errors at shortstop. He was named All-Sierra Foothill League and was the team MVP. His 21 hits led Yuba City that season.
He went on to an outstanding collegiate career at both Yuba College, where he's in the Hall of Fame, and UC Davis.
Graben dedicated 27 years of service to the Honker baseball program, the most of any coach in the program's history.
He coached the Honker JV program from 1974-1980 and was head of the Honker varsity team from 1981-89. Graben coached the frosh team in 1994 before returning to full-time service in 2001 as an assistant at the varsity level with Stassi.
Graben teamed with Stassi for 10 seasons from 2001-10, as they led Yuba City to four Sac-Joaquin Section championships and six league titles.
Graben is also a member of the Chico State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame.
Hawkins, the namesake of Yuba City's JV baseball field, was one of the greatest volunteers in the history of Yuba City's baseball program.
Known as "Mr. Baseball," his contributions included building dugouts on campus, fencing, scoreboards, backstops and several other projects for baseball and softball facilities. All of his work and materials were donated or given at cost.
He also served as a Little League coach, umpire and high school umpire. He served as president of Sutter Buttes Little League and Big League. He was a Little League commissioner for more than 20 years.
Hawkins was inducted posthumously.
Noreen put together one of the best prep careers in Yuba City history.
In his senior season in 1978, Noreen led Yuba City to a 29-5 record and second place finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
That year, Noreen took home numerous accolades including Delta League MVP, team MVP, Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament of Champions MVP, Sacramento Bee All-Metro Player of the Year (just one of two Honkers to ever win the honor) and he was an Optimist All-Star Game selection.
Noreen went 11-1 with a 0.88 ERA on the mound and also played third base. He batted .480 with 43 hits.
As a junior, he batted .414 with a 6-2 record on the mound as he was selected team MVP and named to the All-Delta League squad.
Noreen is also a member of the Yuba College Hall of Fame and won a state championship with the 49ers in 1980. He went on to play Division-I ball at Nevada.
An outstanding pitcher in his own right, Scott holds the distinction of being the only player in school history to pitch at the Major League level.
Scott made his debut with the California Angels in 1993 and went on to play 11 years of professional baseball with six different organizations.
The right-hander played three seasons of varsity baseball from 1984-86, earning All-Delta League honors twice and Appeal-Democrat All-Area accolades three times.
He played Division-I college baseball at Loyola Marymount.
Rounding out the inductees is Jim Stassi, who contributed as both a player and coach.
As a catcher with the Honkers in 1977 and 78, he was a two-time All-Delta League selection and helped the aforementioned 78 squad reach the section championship. He set a record with 11 hits in the Sac-Joaquin Section TOC.
He later played at Yuba College, leading the 49ers to the 1980 state championship. Stassi transferred to Nevada, earning all-conference honors.
He is a member of both the Yuba College and Nevada athletic Hall of Fame.
Stassi returned to his alma mater as a coach, leading the Honkers' varsity program from 1993-2010.
In that time span he led Yuba City to 10 Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearances, six league championships and four section titles.