Warlords rule Railroad Days diamond again

Steve Gerace
Jeff Lotz powered up for the Warlords June 12 during the 2010 Railroad Days Softball Tournament at the Dunsmuir City Park field.

The 2010 Railroad Days Softball Tournament took on an old school look when the Warlords from the east San Francisco Bay Area faced a new breed of Ducks in Sunday’s championship game.

A regular at the tournament since the mid-1980s, the Warlords went undefeated over the weekend to win their first Railroad Days title since they went back-to-back in ’91 and ’92.

Back then they wore t-shirts that showed a warlord stomping on a duck.

Some of the team’s veterans, including pitcher Timmy “Bones”?Wise, wore those old faded shirts this past weekend.

Joining the veterans on this year’s Warlords team were some young guns who once ran around the Dunsmuir City Park field as children when the team came to town back in the day.

Michael Padula, who brought this year’s version of the Ducks to Dunsmuir from the Chico/Paradise area, also has deep roots in the Railroad Days tourney. His father, Zeke, was an original member of the hometown favorite Dunsmuir Ducks and organized the Railroad Days tournament for several years.

Zeke predicted on Saturday that these new Ducks would do what his Ducks used to do regularly – make it to the championships.

Though they didn’t take the straightest path and they didn’t win it all, they swam out of the losers’ bracket on Sunday like the old Ducks did a time or two. You could easily say they looked like Ducks.

To get to the championship game, the Ducks had to beat Those Guys, a group of players from the south county, some of whom also spent time around the Dunsmuir ball park as children during the Ducks-Piemont-EBAC-Warlords heyday.

Those Guys knocked off the Ducks Saturday evening, then lost to the Warlords in the final winners’ bracket game.

After the Ducks dropped Those Guys to third place on Sunday, the Warlords defeated the Ducks 13-9 to claim the title.

Bull Moose, another team that has been playing in the Railroad Days tourney for some 15 or 20 years, placed fourth.

JB Smith of the Warlords was named the tournament MVP, but no all-tourney team was selected.

Current tournament organizer Chris Hanson also goes way back with this event. He was a batboy for the Piemont as a kid when his uncle Rick Stone swung a might bat for the team that the late Kenny Reed built.

Hanson, now the former Mount Shasta High School baseball coach, did a lot of the umpiring behind home plate over the weekend, and he kept the official scorebook at the same time.

He said he and partners Ryan Jackson, Eric Degraffenreid and Tyler Carmichael run the tournament “for the love of the game” – and to help support the south county men’s softball league.

Morgan Lakin of the Warlords said it’s a tradition for he and his East Bay friends to get together once a year and play some softball in Dunsmuir.

“We stay at Railroad Park, play golf at Mount Shasta, go fishin’ – the whole nine yards,” Lakin said. “We’ve made a lot of friends... This is where Babe Ruth played... Who wouldn’t want to come here.”

Blake Powers of Those Guys sees a Ducks outfielder throwing as he rounds third base on his way to scoring a run during a Railroad Days tournament victory June 12, 2010, at the Dunsmuir City Park field.