Try La Loma Park for Baseball and More

By Jonathan Wafer Special to the Planet
Thursday August 21, 2008 - 11:23:00 AM

Looking for a great late-summer outing? Try La Loma Park, nestled in the Berkeley Hills on the northside of UC Berkeley.  

The land which is now La Loma Park was originally owned by Captain Richard Parks Thomas, a Berkeley businessman and Civil War veteran. Thomas was the owner of the Standard Soap Company in West Berkeley, president of the California National Bank of San Francisco, and owner of the Berkeley Ferryboat Line. According to an old map of the area, Thomas ran an illegal still on the property. He also came up with the idea of an aerial tramway starting from the Berkeley flatlands to the hills. And each Fourth of July, the eccentric Thomas would fire a civil war cannon from a spot he built above his home. 

A stone quarry was built at the mouth of Codornices Creek in the 19th century. In 1962 the site was filled in and leveled and two additional properties were purchased from private owners in 1966 and 1967. The baseball field was added in 1967, and the upper terraces were developed in 1969-1970. On Nov. 1, 1969, Glendale-La Loma Park was dedicated in a public ceremony. 

Besides the baseball diamond, La Loma Park also features a multi-purpose turf, a half-court basketball court, a tot play area featuring swings, slide, train and hillside climber, school-age play area featuring climber with slide, swings and sand. The park also features an overlook with breathtaking views of Berkeley and the surrounding areas, a rock outcrop and a picnic area with a barbeque and fireplace. 

In the 1970s, I participated in Continental League Baseball at La Loma/Glendale Park as an all-star second baseman for Harbert Brothers, named after the sporting goods store once located in downtown Berkeley. The Continental Baseball League boasted such legendary Berkeley athletes as Jeff Ransom, also of Harbert Bros, James Ferguson of Police Reserve, Pancho Russ and Ted Bell of Royce Motors as well as David and Michael Wilder of the Black Aces. Other teams in the league were Thousand Oaks, the Berkeley Jaycees and Dynamo. After each Saturday game it was not unusual to enjoy a large barbecue at La Loma for the teams and their families.  

In 1974, the park was awarded the National Merit Award by the professional Awards Program of the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

La Loma Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. unless otherwise posted.