As early as 1892, “three strikes, you’re out!” could be heard across the Antelope Valley.
Baseball has been a great national pastime and happened to be the most popular team sport in old Lancaster. Few recreational activities existed for young men to pursue, therefore many would play ball for hours to pass each day. With so much practice, they became great players and formed various local teams.
Baseball games and barbecues would regularly take place in Rawley Duntley’s Oak Creek Ranch (near Willow Springs). People did not want to miss these entertaining events and would travel from all over the Antelope Valley to attend.
After graduating from Antelope Valley High School and Antelope Valley College, James "Jim" Slaton left the Valley to become a major league pitcher. He played in the American League with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Detroit Tigers, and the California Angels.
Slaton represented the Brewers, and the American League, in the 1977 All-Star game and was the winning pitcher for the Brewers in the 1982 World Series against St. Louis. He's earned 151 major league victories during his major league career.
After retiring, Slaton became a coach. For more than two decades he worked with minor (Lancaster Jethawks) and major league teams (bullpen coach for the Mariners and the Dodgers). In 2010, Slaton was named the pitching coach at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers and White Sox Spring Training facility.
"Gurba, Norma H. Lancaster. Arcadia, 2005.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"