More than 200 people arrived at Christian Brothers High School to attend a dinner honoring the latest inductees to the La Salle Club Baseball Hall of Fame on April 28.
For those who are unfamiliar with this annual event, the gathering serves as one of the club’s most important fundraisers.
In its dedication to provide financial assistance to the high school’s athletic programs, the club raises funds through the event, while honoring some of the most accomplished baseball players, managers, scouts or umpires of the past.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were Jim Barr, Pat Fall, Mike Furtado, Ken Hottman, LeRon Lee, Don Murphy, Bob Puccinelli and Rich Separovich.
Although the La Salle Club is directly associated with Christian Brothers High, the criteria to be inducted as a member of the Hall of Fame extends beyond the high school. Or in other words, inductees need not have any connection to the high school.
And by adding non-Christian Brothers High associated members, the Hall of Fame offers a much more thorough representation of baseball talent from the region.
Furthermore, the mere existence of the club provides additional evidence of Sacramento’s longtime notoriety as a baseball city.
Hall of Fame members are all notable baseball people who have performed or resided in the greater Sacramento area.
All inductees are named by the La Salle Club Baseball Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
This year, an amendment was made to the requirement that a person being inducted into the hall be living. Posthumous selections will be made for the first time next year.
As part of the evening’s program, a tribute was made to the seven Hall of Famers who passed away during the last 12 months.
Following the dinner, which was served by Christian Brothers High parents and students, a special recognition was given to the 1962 Bishop Robert J. Armstrong High School championship baseball team, which was led by its head coach, Dick Sperbeck.
The team, which made history as one of the most successful high school baseball teams in the city’s history, posted a 22-2 won-loss record, beat four Northern California conference champions and was eventually recognized as the state’s “Team of the Year” by Cal-Hi Sports.
As part of the program, Sperbeck shared various memories about his former players who were in attendance at the event.
One of these former players was Carmichael area resident Bernie Church, who serves as president of the La Salle Club.
Church, who was a teacher for 36 years and a baseball coach for 20 years at C. K. McClatchy High School, received additional recognition earlier in the day when McClatchy’s baseball field was named in his honor.
In commenting about his recent honors, Church said, “It was a pretty special week. That’s for sure.”
As the featured segment of the evening, the Hall of Fame award presentations for new inductees was well structured and enhanced by a comprehensive program, which was composed and edited by 1970 Christian Brothers High graduate Rick Cabral.
After being individually introduced as newly inducted members of the hall, each of the inductees shared some of their baseball experiences.
The following are biographical information and excerpts from these new Hall of Famers’ acceptance speeches:
Barr attracted many Northern California baseball fans, as he played 10 of his 12 years in Major League Baseball as a successful pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.
In describing the game, he said, “Baseball is a way of life.”
His love for baseball and the relationships he has developed while being involved in the game has kept him active in the sport since his youth.
Barr, who later excelled in men’s senior league games and was a pitching coach at Sacramento State University, presently works with the Granite Bay High School baseball team.
A 1966 graduate of McClatchy High, Fall earned all-city honors as a pitcher during his senior year at McClatchy.
His talents on the diamond led him to be drafted by the Kansas City (now Oakland) A’s. He played in the A’s organization and later in the California (now Los Angeles) Angels organizations and was the winning pitcher of the National Division of the Winter League championship game for the Carmichael Merchants in 1971.
Fall paid tribute to Sacramento’s many baseball sponsors, saying, “Without the sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to play the game we play.”
Furtado was a standout pitcher at McClatchy High and Sacramento State during the 1960s, played many years of bush league baseball and later achieved success coaching the Elk Grove High School varsity baseball team.
Furtado, who mentioned that he met his wife through baseball, closed his speech saying, “Those were some great years (and) years I’ll never forget. And as (Roberto Clemente) said, ‘Baseball has been very, very good to me.’”
After successful years playing baseball at Elk Grove High and Sacramento City College, Hottman played seven years of professional baseball, including a year with the Chicago White Sox. He also played Winter League ball in Sacramento.
In remembering his playing days in Sacramento, Hottman noted that the high level of competition resulted in an even higher level of achievements by those participating in the games.
Murphy, who graduated from Bishop Armstrong High in 1964, played catcher for Sperbeck’s teams for two years.
His baseball highlights also included catching for American River and St. Mary’s colleges, playing in bush league games and catching a no-hitter thrown by Bob Forsch of Sacramento.
Murphy said that baseball taught him valuable lessons in life.
“Through baseball, I learned how to win, how to lose, success, failure, teamwork, competition,” Murphy said.
A former all-city baseball star at Grant High School, LeRon Lee played eight years in Major League Baseball and 11 years of professional baseball in Japan.
Lee, who also played in the Winter League, credited Sacramento for being the place where his success in baseball began.
“It all happened before I left (Sacramento) and it all happened because we had such great competition, great coaches (and) great players to work with,” Lee said.
Puccinelli, who was an outfielder for Sacramento High from 1953 to 1955, was named to the all-city team of The Sacramento Union during his senior year.
His other baseball highlights include participating on the 1957 College World Series champion University of California, Berkeley team and signing with the Cleveland Indians organization.
The theme of Puccinelli’s speech was the “we concept” and the benefits that could be had by working as a team.
Richard, who was also a high school all-star in 1955, was a standout baseball player at Christian Brothers High.
He also played for Southside American Legion, several Winter League teams, the Sacramento Solons Rookies and Sacramento State.
Richard, who coached the Charles M. Goethe Junior High School (now Rosa Parks Middle School) baseball team during the 1970s, expressed his appreciation to the voters for allowing him to join his other family members in the Hall of Fame.
Separovich family members in the Hall of Fame also include Richard’s father, Michael, and Richard’s uncles, Tony and Mark.
Since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 1953, more than 400 people have been inducted into the hall, including Wally Westlake, Johnny McNamara, Cuno Barragan, Ronnie King, Woody Held, Joe Marty, Eddie Fitzgerald and Joe Kirrene.