Jim Colborn: Famous player tells Rotary Club of new baseball league

May 28, 2010
Santa Paula News

A favorite son and internationally recognized baseball player and coach entertained the Rotary Club at a recent meeting with stories centered on and off the diamond.

Rotarian Carl Barringer introduced Jim Colborn, a 1963 Santa Paula High School graduate and ASB president; he received a Rotary Foundation Fellowship for graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland 1968-69. Barringer noted Colborn’s late father Bill and mother Carolyn also served as SPHS ASB presidents.

Colborn brought presents he donated for a quick Rotary auction: four sets of baseball cards from 1970 bearing his image. Although his professional career began in 1969, Colborn told Rotarians “They didn’t start taking pictures till they knew you would stick!”

A graduate of Whittier College, Colborn also did advance studies at the universities of Copenhagen, Denmark and Washington. He is honored in the Whittier College and Ventura County Sports Halls of Fame.

A three star athlete at SPHS - football, baseball and basketball - Colborn, a resident of Ventura, pitched 10 years in the majors with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Seattle. He was selected to the American League All-Star team in 1973; in 1975 he pitched a no-hitter for the Royals.

He retired as an active player in 1979, but remained a star in coaching circles, starting his career with the Chicago Cubs. Colburn served as a pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since 2008 he has been the Texas Rangers coordinator of Pac Rim Operations.

Colborn now has the Jim Colborn Baseball League, which last year featured former LA Dodger and 1962 MVP award winning shortstop Maury Wills as the featured guest for opening ceremonies for the Jim Colborn Baseball League.

Colborn said his sports career started at Mupu Elementary School, and “I learned by hitting rocks at the Rafferty orchard, by throwing rocks into Santa Paula Creek. I’ve been in baseball for 40 years, only 12 years as a player... only through mistakes did I learn to be mediocre!”

He recalled the days of baseball fame, considered a “stud muffin” and now, joked Colborn, when asked how he tones things down, “I like to use a dull monotone voice... and the receding hairline helps.” Of the SPHS baseball area named in his honor, “It’s called the Jim Colborn Memorial Field... maybe they think I died!”

Colborn and Ron Araiza are devoted to the baseball league bearing Colborn’s name: “I figured if you build it they will come,” and this year the league has eight teams of high school and college players throughout the county who participate at a low cost due to sponsorships. It costs about $1,500 to sponsor a team, and “If this gets to be too popular I’m sure I can fire Ron and get someone less competent!” joked Colborn.

A large part of the motivation for creating the league “is to do something for Santa Paula,” and this year Colborn said he is again trying to have a major league star as the guest to throw out the first ball of the season. Colborn said he would like to forge a stronger relationship with Harding Park and make it the team’s home base.


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