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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Pioneer Baseball League announces new Yolo County High Wheelers team

The first Davis professional sports team will play at Dobbins Stadium 

 

By LUCIENNE BROOKER — sports@theaggie.org

 

 Professional baseball is coming to Davis: with the addition of the Yolo County High Wheelers to the Pioneer Baseball League (PBL), Yolo County gains its first-ever professional sports team. The High Wheelers are the second PBL West Coast expansion team, following the addition of their new rivals, the Oakland Ballers. 

In an unprecedented partnership with UC Davis, the High Wheelers will play games at the UC Davis Phil Swimley Field at Dobbins Stadium, and their first home game is set for May 21, 2024. 

Rocko DeLuca, director of athletics at UC Davis, offered insight on the partnership.  

“We are thrilled to announce our exciting partnership with the Yolo High Wheelers, Davis’ newest baseball team,” DeLuca said. “This collaboration represents a significant stride in fostering community engagement and promoting the spirit of baseball within our university […] We look forward to a successful and mutually beneficial partnership.” 

The High Wheeler ownership plans to not only collaborate with the university over stadium scheduling and resources but also aims to involve the students in many aspects of their day-to-day experience. 

Through a Community Benefits Agreement between the PBL, UC Davis and Yolo County, the High Wheelers are looking to benefit the community as much as they can. One of their goals is to provide internships and career advice for students looking to go into the sports world. Additionally, they plan to support the community of Yolo County by committing to yearly renovations of baseball facilities in the county, partnering with local businesses, donating tickets and much more. 

Davis Mayor Josh Chapman already sees the partnership as both a celebration of Davis culture and an acknowledgment of the potential to continue expanding the appeal of the city. Chapman expressed this at the announcement press conference on Jan. 23, 2024.

 “Today’s announcement showcases a desire for our city to have a professional sports team that celebrates everything that makes our community a fantastic place to call home,” Chapman said. “I am excited to root for the Yolo High Wheelers and throw the first pitch at the season opener in May. I look forward to seeing the Yolo High Wheelers provide our residents, communities and visitors with a fun and memorable experience.” 

The name High Wheelers honors the city’s deep dedication and love for bicycling. Often considered the “biking capital of California” and home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, Davis is notorious for being a bike-friendly city. The Yolo High Wheelers are named for a vintage bike, the high wheel. High wheelers were popular in the 1900s for their comfortable design featuring a disproportionately large front wheel. 

Although opening day is still several months away for the High Wheelers, they’ve been busy hiring their coaching staff and beginning to build their roster. Co-founders Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel first brought in Troy Laparco as general manager and have since expanded their staff. Gary Davenport will take the role of bench coach, while Jerome Williams has been named pitching coach; Billy Horton has been hired as the team manager. 

Horton shared his excitement at the Jan. 23 press conference. 

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the Yolo High Wheelers in our inaugural season,” Horton said. “It’s been an awesome challenge over the past three months helping build this club, and I am very excited about the foundation we have created. I believe the players we are bringing in will represent the City of Davis and Yolo County well both on and off the field.”

Freedman and Carmel shared the same sentiment as they want their players to not only play baseball in Yolo County but also to get involved with the community. So far, the team has signed Jack Zalasky, a recent Sacramento State graduate, and is looking to further expand their roster before opening day. 

PBL President Michael Shapiro shared his thoughts and excitement regarding the new team.

“On behalf of the Pioneer Baseball League, we welcome the Yolo High Wheelers and the broader Yolo and Solano County baseball fans to the historic Pioneer League,” Shapiro said. “We’re excited to bring professional baseball to more California fans, […] while building a partnership with the local community that puts the fans first.” 

Fans can catch the Yolo High Wheelers in action for the first time and see for themselves what the team can bring to the community on May 21 at Dobbins Stadium. 

 

Written by: Lucienne Brooker — sports@theaggie.org

 

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