An inside look into California's "Field of Dreams"

Nathan Rueckert

Posted on March 12 2018

As many of you know, Ethan Bryan and I published a hardcover coffee table book titled America at the Seams, in which we share powerful stories from all 50 states that center around baseball.  It’s been over 4 months already since it’s release and I still can’t believe my name is on a book!  Crazy!

One of my goals in 2018 is to better connect you all with people behind the stories within the book. It’s one thing to read few pages about an inspirational story involving a person or organization, but it’s so much more powerful to have a chance to dig deeper with the people themselves via social media, websites, and more. 

This week, we’d like to share with you a little bit about the California story from America at the Seams about a vineyard owner who plowed 4 acres of fertile soil in Sonoma County to make a regulation size baseball field.  

John Balletto, owner of over 700 acres in Sonoma County, was at one point the largest vegetable farmer north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  But after 3 El Niño storms in 1999, he began converting his land into what is now Balletto Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County. Around this same time, John’s vineyard manager, Manuel, was in a twelve-team baseball league and approached John about sponsoring their team.  John took it a step further - he wanted to build them their own ballfield. 

“I agreed to donate the land and give them the supplies if Manuel and his crew donated the labor, so everyone would feel that sense of pride and ownership. One year later, Los Uveros (“The Grapers”) had a home field.”

That land could have produced twenty tons of grapes annually, or 14,400 bottles of wine.  But a lesson learned is that sometimes relationships are more important than money. 

John says in America At The Seams,

“We didn’t really think about the field in terms of economic cost.  Manuel has been with us for 34 years, and he and his team do a great job.  We value our employees and their hard work, and baseball is a great release for all of us.”  


Special thanks to John for donating baseballs used on their own ‘Field of Dreams’ to be used to create the California State artwork pictured in our book.

(For info on ordering fine art prints of any state's "America At The Seams" artwork, click here).

Please feel free to reach out to Balletto directly and let them know what you think! You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as their website at  

If you’d like to read more stories like John’s, order your copy of America at the Seams today.   Take me out to the ballgame never sounded so good.  

Have a great week, and as always, Play ball!

Nathan Rueckert, Artist & Owner
The Baseball Seams Co.

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