Sacramento is undoubtedly a place in which many people take pride. But when it comes to life experiences in this city, few people remember Sacramento better than Lou Bordisso, Sr.
For the great number of years he has lived in Sacramento alone, Lou cannot help but have many memories of the city. But his connection with the area extends well beyond simply living here.
Born in Sacramento on Nov. 17, 1913, Lou was one of the three children of Italian immigrants Frank and Maria Bordisso.
Frank worked for the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Marie was a local cannery worker.
During his early childhood, Lou grew up with his family at 1919 14th St. The family, who also included Lou’s siblings, Bill and Katherine, moved to 2710 X St. in about 1927.
Attended local schools
Lou began making friends with many local children while he was attending William Land School at 1116 U St.
He continued his schooling at Newton Booth School at 2620 V St. and Sutter Junior High School at 1820 K St. before becoming a student at Sacramento High School in the early 1930s.
While at Newton Booth and Sacramento High, he was a classmate of Herb Caen, who would eventually become a renowned columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Like many boys growing up in Sacramento at the time, Lou was very interested in the sport of baseball.
And with this interest, Lou began playing baseball at Southside Park when he was 12 years old.
Among Lou’s fondest memories in the game were his years as a third baseman on Sacramento High’s team, which was led by its coach, Edmond A. “Ed” Combatalade.
In reminiscing about these years, Lou said that the Sacramento High team included Alex Kampouris (1912-1993).
“The players named me the captain of the team and we also had (then-future Major League Baseball player) Alex Kampouris on the team,” Lou said. “I remember when we went to Berkeley to play and Kampouris – he was fussy about who he liked – picked me to stay over night. I almost fell over.”
Another notable player on the Sacramento High team was Bill Svilich, who later played for the Sacramento Senators, and Joe Bagley, who was known to practice baseball on a nightly basis at Southside Park.
Minor league player
Lou’s success in baseball in Sacramento led to his signing with the Des Moines (Iowa) Demons, the minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
And through this experience, Lou was able to practice at Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field.
“I worked out on the Cubs squad with Dolph Camilli (1907-1997), first baseman,” Lou said. “That was a thrill for a kid. I was only 20 years old.”
Camilli, who played for 11 years in the majors, later managed the Sacramento Solons.
The Winter League
Lou was also a baseball manager, as he led his Winter League team to 11 championships. At different times, the team was sponsored by Julius Men’s Shop at 1023 K St. and Matt Transfer and Storage at 851 Richards Blvd.
Local golf phenom
In addition to baseball, Lou also experienced notable success in golf.
Although he did not begin playing golf until after he retired, Lou accomplished a feat that is only dreamed of by most golfers.
Lou made hole-in-one shots on both the first and second holes at Bing Maloney Golf Course at 6801 Freeport Blvd.
Several years later, some of Lou’s friends from Joe Marty’s bar at 1500 Broadway had a bench installed and named in his honor at the 12th hole at William Land Park.
Another one of Lou’s fondest memories was his Oct. 30, 1938 marriage to Rose Elizabeth “Sunny” Thomas. The couple was married by the Rev. Silvio Masante at St. Mary’s (Italian Catholic) Church at 1915 7th St.
Fifteen years later, the couple adopted their only child, Lou Anthony Bordisso.
The adoption was made possible through a letter that was written by Grace “Ciss” Kennedy, who was a friend of Sunny.
The couple’s son, who was adopted through an agency in San Jose, was given the middle name of Anthony as a show of appreciation to the Kennedy family. Ciss’s son is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
While there are many people who associate Lou with his baseball days, others know him as the former owner of two local bars.
After returning from his service in World War II, Lou partnered with his brother in the ownership of Old Ironsides at 1901 10th St.
In 1968, Lou sold his interest in Old Ironsides and purchased the Flame Club at 2130 16th St.
Despite selling the Flame Club a decade later, Lou spent little time away from the bar business before accepting a part-time position as a bartender at Joe Marty’s.
Lou continued to work at Joe Marty’s for a few more years, at which time his legs became too weak to withstand the pressures of standing for hours at a time.
‘Local living legend’
During an interview with this publication, Lou Anthony said that his father is somewhat of a local celebrity.
“There is not a place where we can go to in Sacramento where my father is not recognized and approached,” Lou Anthony said. “People always come up to him to reminisce and share with him how he has influenced their lives. He really is like a local living legend.”
Man about town
Despite being less than two years away from becoming a centenarian, Lou remains active in every day life.
Lou continuously dedicates himself to his social life, which includes writing letters to friends and weekly visits to one of his favorite local businesses, the La Bou Bakery and Café at 4400 Del Rio Road, just south of the Sacramento Zoo.
He also often returns to the Old Ironsides and the Flame Club for lunch and reminiscing about his local baseball days and his other fond memories in the capital city.
When asked what his secret to success has been for maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle for nearly a century in his hometown of Sacramento, Lou said, “My life has been very good, very good. I exercise and eat pretty healthy. I stayed out of trouble, had a good marriage, had a very good boy (Lou Anthony). I’ve had everything I’ve wanted, a nice business, a lot of fun in baseball and (other) sports and I’ve made a lot of friends. Things have been good. That’s all you can ask for in life.”