Playing Poker With The PCL’s Past

Never expected to get a blog post out of a weekend trip to watch college basketball, but here we are.

I went down to Berkeley/Oakland this past weekend to watch my alma mater play a pair of (highly successful) basketball games, and somehow randomly ended up in a miniature Pacific Coast League museum.

Texas Hold ‘Em is an enjoyable pastime for me. For you non-cardplayers, this is a skill-based poker game, in which you play against the other players at the table (and not against the “house” or casino). I often will find a card room on the road and play for a bit if I have some spare time.

This weekend I had some time between basketball games so I decided to play a little poker at the Oaks Club, which is technically in Emeryville near the eastern base of the Bay Bridge. Little did I know that I was walking directly into the PCL’s past.

The card room – which claims to have been open since 1895 – sits directly across the street from the former location of Oaks Ball Park, which housed the PCL’s Oakland Oaks from 1913-1955. The stadium was demolished after the franchise was relocated to Vancouver in 1956, and now the Pixar Animation Studio sits on that plot of land.

The ballpark’s old neighbor has kept the memory of the franchise alive.

Covering the walls of the restaurant section of the Oaks Club are a series of terrific historical photos of this long-gone PCL franchise. I took some pictures of the pictures (the diners in there thought I was weird) and they didn’t come out real well – the lighting was as terrible as my photography skills – but it was cool to see this stuff on the wall in such an unlikely location. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

ballpark aerial

Aerial shot of Oaks Ball Park

The Oaks had some big baseball names. The DiMaggio brothers were from nearby San Francisco, and Vince played for the Oaks.

Vince Dimaggio

Vince DiMaggio circa 1947

Oakland won a PCL title in 1927, and then suffered through two decades of sub par seasons. The drought ended with a PCL championship in 1948 under the guidance of Hall Of Fame manager Casey Stengel.

Oaks win!

Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel, Oaks manager 1946-1948

There are many more PCL photos on the walls, but as you can tell it was tough to get decent shots of them. If you like PCL history and are ever in Oakland, it’s worth checking out the Oaks Club – even if you have no intention of playing cards. And if you need to use their free WiFi, the password is “1927PCLchamps.”


New post coming Wednesday, when we look at the 2016 Tacoma Rainiers middle infield candidates.

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