By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
A few weeks ago we published a plea from San Quentin baseball program director Michael Kremer looking for teams to play inside the friendly confines against the inmates. The response was very positive and many teams contacted Michael for more information. Below is some updated details and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as a couple of links to forms you’ll need to fill out.
If you need to contact Michael directly his email is firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 415-246-4343. Michael can send you the additional forms needed, such as the clearance forms for your team and the primary rules and laws.
By Michael Kremer, San Quentin Baseball Program Director
Thank you for your interest in playing baseball at San Quentin! First of all, my apologies for the delay in responding. We have been inundated with requests to play at SQ since the posting went up on the MSBL website – certainly a good problem to have, and we’ll try our best to find a way to ensure that every team that is interested has an opportunity to play.
Given the high demand, we will be allocating these open slots on a first-come, first-serve basis. We request that you do your best to submit the required paperwork (detailed below) within two weeks so that we can be sure that the prison has the necessary time to process all players for entry. We are also working on adding some game slots on Sunday evenings this summer and on Saturdays and Sundays in October and will keep the teams on this list updated once that is confirmed.
We have the following game slots currently open:
- Wednesday 6/20
- Saturday 7/7 – morning only
- Wednesday 7/25
- Saturday 8/11 – evening only
- Wednesday 8/15
- Wednesday 8/22
- Wednesday 9/5
- Wednesday 9/12
- Wednesday 9/19
- Wednesday 9/26
- All Saturdays in October – morning and evening
- Sunday afternoon/evening at 4:30 PM throughout the summer – we are still in the process of confirming our ability to add this additional game slot with the prison, but please indicate if you are potentially interested.
Thank you all for you interest in playing at San Quentin. It is an unforgettable experience for everyone involved, and on behalf of the program I look forward to welcoming you into the prison for a game soon!
Michael Kremer (SQ Baseball Program Director)
San Quentin – Clearance Process and FAQs
Clearance for Entry: prior to clearing teams for entry, the prison runs background checks on each individual prison. The following information is required:
- Signed and scanned CDCR 181 form from each player (attached)
- Gate Clearance Form (attached), containing the following information for each player:
- Date of Birth
- Driver’s License State and Number
- Social Security Number
Please send the fully-completed 181s and Gate Clearance forms to me and I will send them to the prison for processing. It is critical to send these items at your earliest convenience, as the clearance process takes 4-6 weeks to complete depending upon the number of players and workload at the prison. You will not be able to play in the prison until this process is completed.
- When are games scheduled and how long do they run for?
- We have weekday game slots on Wednesday or Thursday evenings and weekend game slots on Saturday morning and evening.
- For weekday and Saturday evening games, teams enter the prison at 4:30 PM and games generally run until 7:30 (generally enough time for 7-9 innings)
- For Saturday morning games, teams enter the prison at 8:30 AM and games generally run until 12:30-1:00PM (full nine innings)
- For teams traveling in from outside the Bay Area, we can schedule a Saturday doubleheader to maximize playing time in the prison. For those wanting to spend several days visiting the city, we can also schedule a Thursday evening/Saturday morning/Saturday evening three game series.
- What type of gear can I bring into the prison?
- The prison allows individual equipment (glove, batting gloves, uniform, helmet) and one set of catcher’s gear per team.
- Outside teams cannot bring in baseballs or bats. The program receives donated wood bats and balls that we clear for entry into the prison separately. Those bats and balls are available for game use. (for more on donations, see below)
- Can I wear metal spikes?
- Yes – metal or rubber spikes are allowed
- Can I bring food and drinks into the prison?
- Yes – snacks and water or sports drinks are permitted. Please note that this food is strictly for consumption by players on outside teams – sharing or giving food to the inmates is not allowed.
- Can I bring phones or cameras into the prison?
- No, phones and cameras are strictly prohibited. There is a process for media clearance to cover the game – if there is media interest, please email me separately and I can work with you to clear it with the appropriate authority at the prison.
- What should I wear?
- Baseball uniforms, caps, pants, and socks of any color are permitted.
- I don’t have a team but would like to come in on an individual basis to play – is that possible?
- Yes – we have a “San Quentin Taxi Squad” that we call upon occasionally when there are last-minute cancellations or shortages of players on a visiting team. Also, there are a number of teams that come into the prison who would be happy to add individuals for a game or two.
- The same paperwork applies to individuals as full teams, so if you are interested please fill out the attached forms and return to me.
- Will I have an opportunity to interact with the inmate players
- Absolutely! Giving civilians an ability to get to know the inmate players is a core principle of the program. You’ll find that the inmate players are approachable and eager to strike up a conversation about baseball or anything else under the sun. Apart from playing baseball, the human connections that are formed on the diamond are generally the most memorable part of the experience.
- What measures are in place for the safety of outside teams?
- There are guards on the prison yard to ensure everyone’s safety. However, you will find when you go inside that everyone on the yard (baseball players, spectators, and others) are incredibly welcoming, interested to engage in conversation, and completely non-threatening. In my years of work for the program, we have never had any incidents that raise concerns about safety – simply put, if I did not believe this were 100% safe I would not volunteer for the program myself nor would I ask any outside teams to come in.
- Can non-players join the team (i.e. friends, family, umpires)
- Yes – they just have to go through the same background check process as the players. We would suggest keeping team groups below 20 people, as larger groups require longer lead time for clearances.
- The minimum age for entry into the prison is 18.
- What are the criteria for background check clearance?
- We don’t have full clarity from the prison on this, but our general understanding is that a prior criminal record or immediate family members in the prison system can lead to entry being denied. Reasons for denials are kept confidential from baseball program administrators, though if a player is denied he can reach out to the CDCR directly to confirm the reason for denial.
- Denials are done on an individual basis, so if one team member is denied entry the rest of the team can still be cleared – with that in mind, we encourage all interested players to submit clearance information.
- Does the baseball program accept donations?
- Absolutely – we are an entirely volunteer-run organization with no sources of outside funding. Visiting teams are welcome (but not required) to donate a few bats or baseballs. Also, if you have connections to sporting goods retailers who are able to provide equipment such as cleats and gloves at below-market prices, we would also be incredibly grateful for introductions.
- As noted above, outside teams cannot use donated bats on game days, but if you send us donations ahead of time we can clear them for entry into the prison and ensure that they are on the yard for use during the game. Alternatively, we accept donations day-of and are able to work with the prison to get them cleared for acceptance shortly thereafter.
- Does the baseball program have a website?
- Not yet, but it’s coming soon! We will send out a mass email to all teams that have played in the prison when the website is up and running later this summer. We’ll also be putting together a mailing list to provide regular updates on how things are going on the prison baseball diamond and coordinate scheduling for future seasons.
- For now, email or phone is still the best way to get updates on the program and ask any additional questions you may have.
- Are there opportunities to volunteer with the program on an ongoing basis?
- Yes. As a matter of fact, all of our current program volunteers started off as players on outside teams. Volunteers help coach the team and escort outside teams in and out of the prison. It’s also a great way to form deeper relationships with the inmate players and help make a real positive impact on their lives. No minimum commitment required – please email me directly if you are interested. We are especially in need of volunteers who will be able to attend weekday evening games, as our coaching coverage is thinner on those days.