Despite an 8-5 loss to the Southern California Halos on Sunday — his first setback of the season — Santa Barbara Foresters manager Bill Pintard is just happy his team is playing baseball.
Pintard and his staff had to do some last-minute maneuvering to have even a shortened season after COVID-19 forced the California Collegiate league — the league in which the Foresters compete — to cancel its summer season. After working things out with the city of Santa Barbara to use Pershing Park, Pintard put together a schedule that includes all home games through the middle of August.
“It’s just great to be out here again,” he said.
The Foresters, who feature some of the best collegiate talent in the country, are off to a 4-1 start.
“I’m really pleased with the first week of our season and being able to get back after it,” Pintard said. “It’s just such a blessing to be able to play. The city of Santa Barbara and the rec department has just been wonderful in helping us do this, as well as city college.
“This is one of the best lineups that we’ve ever been able to assemble, and we’re just glad to be playing baseball again.”
Tonight, the Foresters host the Texas Express in the start of a five-game series at Pershing Park. The Express is making the trip west to play Santa Barbara after getting to know Pintard’s organization through the team’s decades long success at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas. The Foresters have won seven NBC titles, the most of any team in the long history of the two-week tournament.
“The opportunity to play us was enough motivation for them to come out here,” Pintard said. “They love our team after seeing us play at the NBC World Series.”
The Express, like some other teams Santa Barbara will play this summer, feature some minor league players whose seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, fans are not allowed to attend Forester games this summer due to COVID-19 protocols. But Santa Barbara fans can listen online at sbforesters.org.
“It is weird not seeing our friendly faces in the stands,” Pintard said. “It’s weird, but it’s the way we’ve got to do it. It’s a situation that we’re in right now in our country, and we just have to deal with it.”
Santa Barbara’s five-game series with the Texas Express includes a doubleheader on Thursday, with Game 1 scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
Following the series against the Express, the Foresters will host a team from Santa Maria that includes eight minor league players. The first game of that five-game series is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.