Palomar College has one of the top junior college baseball programs in the nation. Now it has a $10.2 million baseball complex second to none if the JUCO world.
The brand spanking new baseball complex opened play on Jan. 27 with the Palomar Comets taking on the College of the Desert Roadrunners. A brief ribbon cutting and ceremony preceded the game.
Baseball and Palomar sports lovers can thank local voters for the new digs. Proposition M bond measure passed by voters in November 2006 raised $694 million to improve the San Marcos campus, the satellite Escondido campus and build a new Fallbrook campus.
The new complex features a natural turf field with a subsurface drainage system, artificial turf foul territory, stadium-chair seating for approximately 300 with additional upper seating on an artificial turf slope, seven full batting cages, five bullpen mounds, an elevated press box with a state-of-the-art public address system, and a designated warm up area with artificial turf.
The facility replaces aging Myers Field just off Mission Road which originally was constructed in the early 1950s by the late Palomar head coach Ward “Rusty” Myers, his players and volunteers.
Palomar College is known for its baseball program. Darren Balsley, the longtime acclaimed San Diego Padres pitching coach payed there. So did Nick Vincent, a Padres pitcher, as did Tyler Saladino, Chicago White Sox third baseman.
Troy Afenir a catcher with the Houston Astros, Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds; third baseman Randy Johnson — the OTHER Randy Johnson — of the Atlanta Braves; George Hinshaw, second baseman with the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers; Jim Scranton, a Kansas City Royals shortstop.
Another seven former Comets now are on MLB rosters. Too many former players to name here made it to the Minor Leagues. Twenty currently are in the minors.
Among Palomar’s many baseball honors: California State Tournament Runner-Up 2005; South Central Conference champions 1957, 1962; Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions 1988, 1989, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
Palomar College’s baseball team has won five consecutive Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championships and is ranked No. 2 in Southern California in the preseason.
Palomar last year was ranked second in the nation by Perfect Game USA entering the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Final Four in Fresno.
The Comets finished third in the state tournament behind champion Orange Coast College of Costa Mesa and runner-up San Joaquin Delta College of Stockton.
Superintendent/President Adrian Gonzales welcomed guests at the Grand Opening event on Wednesday, Jan. 27, which featured comments by Palomar College Governing Board President Mark Evilsizer; Acting Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services Brian Stockert; and Director of Athletics Scott Cathcart. Professor and Baseball Coach Emeritus Bob Vetter (now serving as an assistant coach), was the official speaker.
After the remarks, a ceremonial ribbon cutting, commemmorative group photographs and refreshments, guest were invited into the stadium to witness the first pitch of the opening day game. Retired Palomar College Superintendent/President Robert P. Deegan was asked to throw the first pitch, but he deferred that honor to Vetter.
Following Vetter’s pitch and the national anthem, sung by Mary Adams, wife of Assistant Coach Ben Adams, Baseball Coach Buck (Cord) Taylor presented the 2016 Palomar College Comet Baseball team in a match against College of the Desert.
In addition to Palomar College faculty, staff and students, guests included public officials, community leaders and former Palomar Comets who advanced to careers as professional athletes.