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By Mike Hazlip—
A spring breeze blows dust in the wind and the ping of a bat connecting with a baseball sending it skyward rings out as the crowd cheers.
On Saturday, a day before Mother’s Day, the four baseball fields at C-Bar-C Park are occupied with little league games of various ages. The youngest players square off with a Tee Ball in one field while older players take another field at the end of an inning. The smell of barbecued hamburgers rises with the smoke from the concession stand at the center of it all.
Sherry Petta of College Greens is at the park with her husband Ryan, mother-in-law Linda, and father-in-law Vic. The family isn’t from Citrus Heights, but came to the park to watch their 13-year-old son play against the home team.
“Even though it’s Mother’s Day, I’m happy to be here watching them play baseball,” Petta said. I’m just happy they’re playing again.”
In the busyness of the season, few stop to realize the day’s events wouldn’t be have been possible without the generosity of the family who once owned the land, originally known as C-Bar-C Ranch.
Citrus Heights Historical Society President Larry Fritz said Lester and Pansy Carrick were the original land owners. Lester worked the land growing wheat and hay while Pansy worked as the school nurse for San Juan High School.
Historical records show the Carrick’s settled in Sacramento in 1875. They owned 320 acres of land between Old Auburn Road and Oak Avenue.
Carrick attended the Old Sylvan School House before playing semi-pro baseball in a Sacramento league. He eventually joined the Citrus Heights Rotary Club and used the family land for community events. Bonfires and picnics, games and hay rides continued for over four decades on the land.
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Of the generations of children who made memories at C-Bar-C Ranch, one young man later became another well-known name in the Citrus Heights community.
“One of their hay wagon drivers was a young Richard Kniesel, who founded the chain Kniesel’s Auto Body Shops, the original of which is on Sunrise Boulevard,” Fritz said. “Richard claims that he is the last person to drive a horse-drawn wagon down Sunrise Boulevard, and is very proud of this distinction.”
Lester Carrick died in 1977, and his wife, Pansy, donated a section of the family land to the Sunrise Parks and Recreation District the following year. Fritz said the original Carrick house was intended to remain at the center of the Oak Crest Village community, but was lost to a fire. Oak Crest Village is now a gated community along Oak Avenue that boarders the West side of C-Bar-C Park.
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Like the dust blowing across the little league fields this sunny Saturday morning, the memories of hay rides and bonfires at C-Bar-C Ranch are scattered by the winds of time.
A monument to the Carrick family stands near the baseball bleachers, silently preserving a part of the family’s history. Petta and her family have set up chairs near the monument to watch the game, a site Lester and Pansy Carrick certainly would have wanted.
Although Petta says she has only visited the park a few times, she said there’s no place she would rather be than watching her son play baseball on this Mother’s Day weekend.
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