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Ballers Baseball Club Leading West Oakland’s Raimondi Park Revitalization

4 mins read
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The Oakland Ballers baseball team have taken another big step forward to playing their first games in Oakland.

The expansion Pioneer League team received approval for $1.6M in improvements to Raimondi Park in West Oakland from the city. This funding will help pay for ongoing improvements in and around the park including seating, a new scoreboard, pedestrian access and upgraded concession areas among other improvements.

Progress on the park has brought optimism to neighbors that the area is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Fans of professional baseball are hopeful that the sport will continue to be played in Oakland long after the A’s have departed for Las Vegas. There’s also hope that Oakland’s rich tradition as an incubator for Major League talent is part of its present and not part of its past.

The inception of the Ballers, or simply “The B’s,” came in the wake of the Athletics announced move to Las Vegas. An A’s fan group called the Oakland 68’s raised over $2M in seed money to help pursue establishing the team. Co-founders and friends Bryan Carmel and Paul Freedman set about the audacious task of building a baseball club from scratch in a condensed timeframe.

They quickly forged an identity for the team with the help of local creative Dustin O. Canalin and The Oaklandish brand who are producing the team’s apparel.

After being blocked by the Oakland Athletics from playing at the Coliseum, The Ballers set about finding a new home to play. After initially considering Laney College for their home games, they turned to the historic West Oakland location on Wood Street.

The intimate park is conjuring up memories for longtime fans of the game who still remember the Oakland Oaks. The Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville (current site of Pixar’s parking lot) seated about 11,000 fans.


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Raimondi Park is named after Oakland native Ernie Raimondi who went to McClymonds high school and played for the Oakland Oaks as did his brothers Billy, Al and Walt. Ernie was killed in action in World War II in Europe on February, 1945. Raimondi Park was dedicated in his honor in 1947 (more on Ernie can be read on Oakland Wiki).

During its heyday, the field nurtured the talents of Major League ballplayers including Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson and Kurt Flood (all McClymonds alumni).

Sadly, the park fell into a state of disrepair throughout the decades. Efforts to renovate the park and reclaim it as community asset go all the way back to 2005 but have failed to gain traction.

Lately, the surrounding area is probably best known for being one of the largest homeless encampment in California. Upgrading the park and reactivating the space is an incredible opportunity for the area of West Oakland if city leadership embraces it. The area is also the site of an incredible amount of multifamily housing development.

In order for the Ballers to be successful long-term, they are likely going to need to attract local families to games and not just disgruntled former A’s fans. The Ballers are addressing this need by improving the children’s play area and making the park accessible and reservable to the public when games are not being played.

Cleanup of the site is being spearheaded by Friends of Raimondi Park, a volunteer organization that they say have removed over 6,420 gallons of trash from the site thus far. A team of local volunteers recently celebrated Earth Day by sprucing up the place with fresh paint, power-washing and additional trash pick-up.

There are three paid lots in the vicinity of the park that can accommodate up to 1000 cars but the team is also looking to help facilitate and encourage walking & riding to games by partnering with local advocacy groups. The park is about a 20 minute walk from the West Oakland BART station. There will also be a free shuttle to and from the station.

Raimondi Park is short ride or walk for Emeryville residents. The Ballers are looking to better accommodate cyclists by bringing amenities to encourage biking to the park including valet parking and a special “bike-gating” area.


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While cycling through Emeryville has gotten much better with the completion of the southern portion of The Greenway, the connection from the terminus of the Greenway to Mandela Parkway remains challenging (a route prioritized by Bike East Bay but never pursued). The stretch from Beach Street that straddles the border of the two cities and would seamlessly connect to Mandela Parkway remains littered, poorly marked and even dangerous.

An alternate route by way of Horton Street puts cyclists at odds with the car-heavy Target/Chick-fil-A shopping area (and soon to include a Total Wine & More).

With additional amenities in West Oakland like this ball park, there’s hope that the two municipalities might better collaborate on connected bike routes between their cities.

Rendering: Oakland Ballers

The team is also hoping to make headlines with their play on the field and have made recent news by signing outfielder and pitcher Kelsie Whitmore to a professional baseball contract. Whitmore would be the first woman to play for the Pioneer League. The Pioneer league has been in operation since 1939 and is a partner to Major League Baseball (although not affiliated with any Major League franchise).

After improvements are complete, the stadium is initially expected to accommodate 4,000 fans per game.

The Ballers are scheduled to play their first of 48 home games at the stadium beginning June 4. The Ballers will typically play six-game series against teams from other parts of the state including the Yolo County High Wheelers (who play in nearby Davis, CA) and from other Western states including Idaho and Colorado.

“We want it to basically be forty-eight block parties around a baseball game,” Ballers co-founder Brian Carmel told NBC Bay Area in a recent interview. “That’s what the vibe is going to be.”

The Ballers have hired former major leaguers Don Wakamatsu as their Executive Vice President of baseball operations, Micah Franklin as their head coach and former Giant J.T. Snow as their first base and bench coach.


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The cost of tickets will range from $15 to $30 (fees included).

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

1 Comment

  1. Another encampment is building along Wood Street at the Emeryville end. You wouldn’t want to walk to the ballpark from Emeryville.

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