3-minute interview with Bill Soto-Castellanos

The starting shortstop for the Berkeley High School baseball team in 1953-54 has written a book about his days as a batboy, ballboy and clubhouse attendant with the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks called “16th & Bryant: My Life and Education with the San Francisco Seals.” The book by the 71-year-old Pinole resident, who lived in the Mission district before moving to the East Bay at age 4, is available at www.amazon.com.

What inspired you to write this book? Two things. Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball,” which came out in 1994. Another guy, Dick Dobbins, wrote a book two years ago called “Nuggets on the Diamond.” That was about the origins of the Seals and the Oaks, going all the way back to 1903. I read that and said, “There’s something I can contribute to this.”

What is your fondest memory of that experience? Working directly with all eight Pacific Coast League teams. I got dressed in the Seals’ clubhouse, worked out with the Seals and [then] the batboys took infield after the team. Then, during the game, I worked for the visiting team.

What was it like hanging out in the dugout with players such as Joe DiMaggio? I didn’t find it necessary to get an autograph from anybody. Wasn’t important to me. I just listened to what they would say. One time, maybe an hour before the game, a fan gave me a ball and asked me to have everyone in the dugout sign it. There were about seven or eight guys in the dugout. Iget down to DiMaggio and hand it to him. He says, “You know, young man, you could get a whole lot more cooperation if you said ‘Please.’” That was an education.


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