Jackson: Rich PCL history lives in Sacramento

From SABR member Josh Jackson at MiLB.com on June 18, 2018:

Frequently referred to in the press as “little Tony Freitas” during his career, the 5-foot-8 left-hander made himself a Sacramento giant during the Pacific Coast League pennant race of 1942, when he pitched the town’s Solons to a highly improbable championship.

After dropping the first two games of the season’s final series — a seven-game set against the powerhouse Los Angeles Angels — Sacramento needed to win all of the next five to overtake LA in the standings and claim its first PCL crown.

The Solons took three straight, leaving the pennant to hinge on a Sunday doubleheader. Freitas, who’d pitched in the win on Friday, shut the door on the 7-5 victory that started the decisive twin bill. As player-manager Pepper Martin surveyed his available arms for Game 2, the southpaw stepped forward and asked to get right back onto the bump. Going the distance, he scattered four hits as the Solons won, 5-1.

Freitas’ ’42 heroics alone would have locked down his legendary status in Sacramento, but it was because he repeatedly proved his love of the city that it loves him back so fiercely. Over a professional career that lasted from 1928-1953, included 107 big league games and 342 Minor League wins (most for a lefty) and ended in the PCL Hall of Fame, he first played for his hometown team in 1929 and made his way back at every opportunity, suiting up for Sacramento in parts of 15 seasons. 

“He’s everybody’s favorite around here,” Sacramento baseball historian Alan O’Connor said. “Guys like Freitas — he grew up in Mill Valley, played here in the ’20s, went back and played for Philadelphia and Cincinnati, finagled a way to get traded to the Cardinals organization so he could come back and play here when we were [a Cardinals affiliate], and then he spent the rest of his life here.

“Guys wanted to stay here, because it was a baseball town.”

Read the full article here: https://www.milb.com/milb/news/pacific-coast-league-solons-history-lives-on-in-sacramento-with-river-cats-others/c-280027656?tcid=tw_article_280027656

Originally published: June 19, 2018. Last Updated: June 19, 2018.