Baseball: The Heat is on

Chico’s boys of summer have run on family fun

Chico Heat fans fill the center seats to cheer on the home team.

Chico Heat fans fill the center seats to cheer on the home team.

Photo by Tom Angel

Summertime and the livin’ is easy … in Chico anyway. While the summer weather will bring temperatures that easily reach beyond anything comfortable, the area offers a number of ways to spend whole summer vacations or just spend an evening after work. For locals and baseball fans in general, a game of the Chico Heat professional baseball club may be just what you need on one of those hot summer days.

Started in 1996 and playing its first season in 1997, the Heat is part of the independent Western Baseball League. The baseball club proved successful for its founders Steve Nettleton and businessmen Bob Linscheid and Jeff Kragel.

In just a few short years, the team has accomplished amazing feats: competing in championships and winning league records in the first couple of seasons, not to mention the $2 million donation that saw the upgrade of Chico State’s ball field, which was affectionately named Nettleton Stadium in honor of Steve and Kathy Nettleton.

This summer proves to be no less of a fun challenge for Heat players and fans alike, with the team playing against the likes of Long Beach, Sonoma, Solano, Yuma, Ariz. and Yuba-Sutter professional clubs. A 2002 team roster isn’t available yet but will be announced sometime in May, before spring training begins.

Even those new to the Chico baseball scene won’t have a hard time fitting in at one of the games: The actual innings are only a fraction of the entertainment each game provides. The mascot, a dragon named Heater who has achieved local commercial and advertisement fame, helps along with crazy contests and provides an atmosphere that any family, baseball fans or not, can enjoy. The dizzy bat contest, seventh-inning stretch and the “rally train” have become part of Heat fans’ vocabulary. There’s even the “Heater World” playground where kids can let off some steam.

Tickets can be purchased for individual games or for the season in advance at the Chico Heat box office at 250 Vallombrosa Ave. or during game day at the stadium. Discounts are also available for group outings and even barbeques, with a wide variety of packages available. The Heat’s website,, offers options in buying tickets and merchandise, learning about the players and managements, and getting up-to-date information on Chico’s favorite baseball league.

So head over to the Nett (Nettleton Stadium) during those hot summer evenings when you can’t imagine sitting in front of your air conditioner another minute. The boys of the Heat promise you a fun-filled evening of good laughs and good baseball.

The first home game is May 31, so dust off your glove for those foul balls.

Chico Heat home games

May 31-June 2 v. Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox

June 7-9 v. Long Beach Breakers

Heater, the Chico Heat’s friendly dragon mascot, is always happy to autograph his picture, or even your hat or shirt!

Photo by Tom Angel

June 14-16 v. Yuma Bullfrogs

June 17-19 v. Solano Steelheads

June 24-26 v. Sonoma County Crushers

July 4-6 v. Sonoma County Crushers

July 7-9 v. Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox

July 16-18 v. Long Beach Breakers

July 19-21 v. Yuma Bullfrogs

July 23-25 v. Solano Steelheads

Aug. 2-4 v. Sonoma County Crushers

Aug. 5-7 v. Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox

Aug. 9-11 v. Solano Steelheads

Aug. 19-21 v. Yuma Bullfrogs

Aug. 29-31 v. Long Beach Breakers