Gus Zernial Fresno Grizzlies Ambassador

March 26, 2008 9:16:43 PM PDT
The former major league long-ball hitter and current Grizzlies Ambassador will be watching every pitch from his usual seat, right behind home plate.Gus Zernial, Former Major League Player: "I'd like to get in that batting cage and swat one."

Gus Zernial is closing in on eighty-five but his love for the game is a strong today as it was during his eleven major league seasons.

Gus Zernial, A Life in Baseball: "Money wasn't the factor then that it is today. Playing the game had to come from the heart."

With a heart dedicated to the game Zernial has written his storied history and you'll find it at the Grizzlies team store just look for the big smiling face on the cover. That's Ozark Ike - Zernial's nickname in the big leagues. A nod to a comic strip homerun slugger some thought he resembled. Gus hit two-hundred forty six homers in his career playing the game in the era of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.

Gus Zernial, Former Major League Player: I hit seven homeruns in four consecutive games. That was quite a feat and it's a record today.

Off the field he made TV commercials in 1951 Gus posed with a certain starlet and he tells it that led Joe DiMaggio to Maryilyn Monroe.

Gus Zernial, Former Major League Player: I got in the middle of two legends: a Hollywood legend and a Baseball legend."

Zernial played with the Chicago White Sox, the Philadelphia Athletics and the Detroit Tigers before leaving the game in 1959.

Gus Zernial, Former Major League Player: "I found out when I left that baseball qualified me for absolutely nothing!"

But his association with radio sports led him to radio gig in Fresno and then to TV sports with this station know then as Channel 30.

His real retirement brought a decade of work to bring minor league baseball back to Fresno, first at Fresno State's Beiden Field and finally to this new field of dreams where a new generation of those who love to play and to watch the game of baseball.

Gus Zernial: "And what a beautiful stadium."


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