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About where Lassen and Yosemite are presently located along about l914, the Praetorian Lodge started their first baseball club and field. It was down in the marshland, where two forks of Cerrito Creek came together, and in those days always damp except for a few months in the summer. Every time they wanted to play they would have to drive the cattle off to make room to play ball as this was all pastureland. Home plate was facing Albany Hill and when the game was over the fellows would go down to the County Line Creek and have their refreshments in the shade of the willow trees. They named this Praetorian Park and played there for years until Zimmerman Park was started behind the new Griffin Lumber Company and the Crab Shack.
[Editor's note: the Praetorian Lodge name is derived from "Praetor" which was the title for the office of the chief legal officer of the Roman Empire.]

Some of the players for the Praetorians were Schwake, Davis, Schmidt, Stark, Kelly, Wilson, and a number of others. Ole Olson usually had the job of umpiring the games. Their meetings were held at Davis Hall on San Pablo Avenue south of Fairmount Avenue.

During the rainy season and high tide, the Praetorian Park area was usually under water and the fellows would go there and shoot wild ducks that landed by the thousands in the shallow water.

The Modern Order Praetorian Baseball Club was the bay area amateur champion in 1914 and 1915. The Praetorian Lodge met in the John H Davis hall and included of a number of well-known, upright citizens who were trying to help this village progress and did a lot for the growth of the area.

All along the edge of the County Line Creek near the Praetorian ball field, wild plants were growing. There was one variety of plant there that the children called "Indian soap" as they could go down to the creek and wash their hands by rubbing this root from the plant and getting suds.

Copyright Mervin Belfils, October 1975
Copyright El Cerrito Historical Society, June 2006

 
   
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