Field of dreams
Celebrity baseball game highlights Santa Paula balloon festival
By Chris Jay 07/28/2011
Dodger fans are having a rough year. On the field, the boys in blue are in last place with any hope of the playoffs already gone; and off the field the future of the team’s ownership is being decided in both bankruptcy and divorce courts. Most serious of all, a visiting Giants fan was nearly beaten to death in the parking lot on opening day and remains in the hospital with brain damage. It’s gotten to the point that protests have occurred outside the stadium led by fans fed up with the team’s mismanagement in and out of the clubhouse.
That’s why it seems like a perfect time to remember and celebrate the franchise’s once proud history, and the overall joy of one of America’s favorite pastimes, with an extremely special event being held at a unique venue that’s not quite as random as a ghostly cornfield in Iowa, but pretty close
This weekend, the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival in Santa Paula, will be hosting a celebrity softball game featuring a who’s who of World Series winners, All Stars, a bona fide Hall of Famer and even some Hollywood celebrities. The man responsible for rounding up all the talent is Ventura County’s very own Jim Colborn.
Born and raised in Santa Paula, Colborn, a pitcher who played in the majors for close to 10 years and one of a select group of players ever to throw a no-hitter, is well-known for his tireless contributions to charities and local athletics.
He also runs his own charity, the Jim Colborn Baseball League, a nonprofit group that caters to area youth who are interested in pursuing college or professional baseball.
When approached with the idea of a celebrity game by Citrus Classic organizer Carla Edwards, Colborn gladly stepped up to the plate, no pun intended, and rounded up some heavy-hitting friends to help a hometown event as well as raise funds for an eventual home field for his baseball league.
So far, players scheduled to appear and/or play at the event include Hall of Famer Robin Yount, should-be Hall of Famer Maury Wills, World Series winners Eric Gagne and Jeff Weaver, and more. There’s also a strong rumor that a major movie star, who has a serious on-screen connection to baseball, plans on attending as well. In addition, a mix of well-known local faces, including mayors and radio personalities, will also take to the field, proving that fun, not serious score keeping, is the afternoon’s main agenda.
Beyond the three-inning game, there will be a homerun derby, a meet-and-greet session with some of the players, a charity auction of baseball memorabilia and a skills-and-drills clinic for kids.
The celebrity game is an addition that’s part of a larger effort to diversify and broaden the balloon festival, according to Edwards.
“This is the first year we’ve expanded the festival to Sunday. It was by popular demand, really. People wanted to make a full weekend out of attending the event,” she said. “We wanted to do something that showcased summertime in America. We figured, ‘what better than baseball?’ We never expected to have such a turnout, though. Just having that many baseball legends in one place should bring a new audience and excitement to the festival.”
The Jim Colborn Celebrity Game and Clinic takes place at the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival on Sunday, July 31, starting at noon. Admission to the game is free with purchase of an event ticket. Festival grounds are located at 18249 E. Telegraph Road in Santa Paula. For more information and tickets, visit www.citrusclassicballoons.com