SAN LUIS OBISPO — One of the premier family-friendly events for the summer has officially started again as the San Luis Obispo Blues kicked off their season over the Memorial Day weekend going 4-0 against the Santa Maria Packers.
Sinsheimer stadium will have all the half-inning hijinks, food, beer, wine and entertainment you could ever want and comes with a fully loaded kids zone with bounce houses and slides for the youngsters who can’t quite sit through an entire baseball game yet.
There are games played between every half inning, bottles of hot sauce are given out for every strikeout and last, but certainly not least, when the Blues score, you score. Every time the Blues score a run patrons flock to the alcohol tent because beer and wine prices are slashed for the remainder of the inning. If all that wasn’t enough, as always the Blues will play three games at Sinsheimer Park, June 21, July 3 and July 26, when they will shoot off fireworks just a few minutes after the conclusion of the game.
The Blues are a wooden bat, summer collegiate baseball organization that allows college players from across the country to continue playing baseball over the summer after their collegiate season ends in beautiful areas like the Central Coast, and most importantly, has them use wooden bats. The change from aluminum to wood makes all the difference in the atmosphere of the ball game and makes viewer feel like they are sitting in a big league park as the wooden crack of the bat fades gently into the night air and tucks cozily into your ear while the metal bats clang like two garbage cans lids being struck together like cymbals.
What makes the SLO Blues even more special is, even though the majority of the team is made up of college players from out of the area, they always bring in local talent as well to give the fans familiar faces to cheer for. Each season the Blues will field a couple of players from the two local college teams in Cuesta and Cal Poly along with a select few high school prospects that have shown promise in the area. The high school kids do not stay with the Blues for the entirety of their season, they are on the temporary roster which is used to fill holes in the lineup while the team waits for the rest of their players to make it to the team after the conclusion of their college season.
The Blues have a handful of local high school seniors on the team this year including two, and almost three, from the North County. Templeton’s Justice Gibbons will be making his return to the Blues after playing for them as junior last year and Paso Robles ace Lucas Climer will join him in his first stint with the wood bat team. Joining those two will be Mission Prep star pitcher and offensive weapon Dylan Beavers who is a Paso Robles native and will be attending Cal- Berkeley next year (all three boys earned first team all-league honors this spring). Not only do the Blues have current local players that also have former players as Templeton’s Noah Bullard, who graduated last year, will also be on the team and so will former Bearcat Joshua Ramirez.
Nearly all of the players on the team, that aren’t local, live with host families in SLO County and the number of host families in the North County, in particular, has grown over the past two seasons as citizens in the area continue to prove their love for baseball.
Last season the Blues finished over .500 in both league play (15-13) and overall (26-18) but finished fifth in their division that also contained the National Baseball Congress World Series Champions in the Santa Barbara Foresters. The Blues finished fifth in the division but ended the season on a tear just missing out on the playoffs.
This will be the third season for the skipper Marple who said he is going to have to make his toughest decisions this year on who makes the roster and who doesn’t as the team is loaded with talent. Marple’s main change from last season to this season? Get older. The skipper says he focused on recruiting freshman and sophomores the past two years but spent this offseason recruiting sophomores and juniors, the only problem with getting older players, however, is he might lose them to the MLB draft that begins on Monday.
Marple says he has three players that have committed to play for the Blues this summer that he suspects will be drafted early and thus not play for SLO leaving room for a couple more players to join the team as the season progresses.
Due to the truly sublime climate of a San Luis Obispo summer evening paired with the large crowds, often times over a thousand, that make their way out for the games the Blues actually host more games than most teams in their league because they would rather play here than in their own empty parks.
The Blues will host another weekend slate of games this weekend as they welcome the California Expo’s to town for a three-game series before heading on the road for their first road contests of the year during the work week. Blues tickets can be purchased online as individuals or packages and are also sold at the door.