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Bay Area Traces
Region well represented in postseason
By Chris Haft /

Northern California has brought October memories of all shapes and sizes to baseball's mental landscape, from a mustachioed three-peat in Oakland in the early 1970s to the shocking earthquake that interrupted the 1989 World Series, and onward to more recent Bay Area forays into the postseason.

Although neither the Giants nor the A's qualified for the 2008 postseason, Northern California was well represented in October play.

The Bay Area, which has produced Hall of Famers such as Joe DiMaggio, Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson, can be connected to the Phillies World Series roster by a pair of their star players: Jimmy Rollins, an Oakland native who graduated from Encinal High School, and left fielder Pat Burrell, a product of San Jose's Bellarmine Prep.

Rollins and Burrell actually met years before they graduated to the Major Leagues -- in 1994, when they played together in the Area Code Games, a showcase for talented amateurs.

For Rollins, a return to the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum during the 2008 season brought out a flood of memories of his days with the Encinal Jets. He left about 24 tickets for each of the three games the Phillies were in town, with his mother, Gigi Rollins, helping juggle the requests.

Looking at a photo of the 1996 Encinal team that won the North Coast Section title at the Coliseum made Rollins smile.

"It was funny," Rollins said. "I thought, 'Man I was little then.' Not that I'm big now, but I was really little then. It seems like [that time] wasn't part of my life. It was that long ago. So much has happened in 12 years, Minor League ball, getting to the big leagues, playing 162 games. It's like, 'Man, I did that?'"

Other Phillies with Northern California connections include closer Brad Lidge, a Sacramento native; utilityman Eric Bruntlett, who lives in Santa Rosa and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics; and general manager Pat Gillick, a native of Chico.

Northern California's influence is also felt among the Tampa Bay Rays. Shortstop Jason Bartlett was born in Mountain View, which is in the shadows of San Jose. Left-hander J.P. Howell lives in Sacramento and was born in Modesto, where the Giants and Yankees worked out while rain delayed the 1962 World Series. Outfielder Jonny Gomes, a member of the Rays organization since 2001 who's not on the postseason roster, hails from San Francisco and lives in Petaluma.

The Boston Red Sox's NorCal ties are strong in the infield. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia grew up rooting for the Giants and graduated from Woodland High School. Shortstop Jed Lowrie was a first-team All-America selection twice in three seasons at Stanford. And corner infielder Kevin Youkilis' brother, Scott, is a San Francisco restaurateur.

The influence of nearby Sacramento is personified by Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa, who was born in that city and, as legend has it, was cut twice from the McClatchy High School team before making his way through to Sacramento City College. Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent, possibly best known for his Most Valuable Player exploits in a Giants uniform, was a University of California Golden Bear.

Former Giants and A's dot the postseason rosters as well, from Kent and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, previously the assistant GM in San Francisco, to former A's farmhands such as current Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton.

But the Bay Area influence leads deeper than the Major League fields, all the way to Encinal High in Oakland.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.