Yuba City man gets Humboldt St. honor
Humboldt State University's baseball program has come a long way in 50 years, as Yuba City's Tom Retzloff can attest to.
Retzloff was a member of the 1956 Lumberjack baseball team that won the Far West Conference. Because of the team's success, Retzloff and his teammates will be inducted into the Humboldt State Hall of Fame during this week's homecoming festivities.
An enshrinement dinner will be held Friday and the team will be introduced at Saturday's game against Southern Oregon.
Going back to Arcata after all these years will help Retzloff rekindle memories of his glory days.
“The practice baseball field was really comical,” Retzloff recalled.
Back in those days, there wasn't enough money to hire grounds crews, Retzloff said, so the players had to get out and prep and chalk the practice field, which was actually the parking lot for the football stadium.
The Jacks played their actual home games in the Humboldt Crabs stadium.
“We had to get out there with heavy equipment and level the (practice) field,” Retzloff said, noting the vehicles that used the lot created large ruts.
The field also had to share uses with other programs. Retzloff said the track team used a portion of right field for the “pole vault and broad jump” events, while a portion of left field was used by the golf team.
Behind the backstop was a wildlife fish hatchery, Retzloff said, where trout were raised in a pond.
Retzloff was a right-handed pitcher who both started and relieved. He pitched against Camp Beale, Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech, winning each game with a good curveball and change-up. He also pitched against the Crabs, a semi-pro team, before being lifted in the sixth inning of a tie ball game.
The Oregon Tech game was particularly memorable.
“It was snowing that day,” Retzloff recalled. “With the snow and the white ball, I could hardly see my catcher's mitt, the batter or the plate.”
At one point, Retzloff said his center fielder called time out and came running in to the mound.
“He told me to make sure that they hit the ball on the ground because he couldn't see it if they hit a fly ball,” Retzloff said.
After that championship season, Retzloff returned to Humboldt for his senior year. The Jacks failed to duplicate their title campaign, and after he graduated, Retzloff settled down in Yuba City in 1959 as a Realtor.
Retzloff still lives in Yuba City with his wife, Kathy. They have two children and three grandchildren.
The Appeal-Democrat's Richard Myers can be reached at 749-4714 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.