If there was ever a time I wanted to be in two places at once, it would have been on Friday evening, Aug. 30.
While I was off covering high school football in San Andreas for the Escalon-Calaveras game, many in the community of Escalon were gathering at Hogan-Ennis Park adjacent to the city’s Community Center to honor a special man.
Emanuel ‘Sketti’ Franceschetti was one of a kind. He was just a day past his 97th birthday when he passed away last Dec. 16. On Aug. 30, the main ball diamond at the local park was designated as Sketti Field in his honor.
One of my earliest memories of Sketti was getting to photograph him and fellow ball dude Herman Grabow when they worked together, guarding the first and third base lines for the San Francisco Giants. In fact, in the recent August ‘Blast From The Past’ feature, a photo I took of the two of them, along with then-manager Dusty Baker, was included in the look back from 20 years ago.
He was also a rabid Cougars fan, supporting the high school sports teams, FFA kids, school fundraisers of all kinds. With grandchildren at the local schools, he was rarely far away from one of the campuses. I distinctly remember a very, very long road trip – when the varsity football Cougars headed south to play in a state championship game in Carson in 2010. We won, by the way, and his grandson Gino was the quarterback.
It was a game for the ages but one of the best parts of that early morning departure from Escalon was hearing Sketti say – when we about two miles out of town – “are we there yet?”
It became sort of our inside joke, whenever he would see me from then on, his way of saying hello was the patented “Are we there yet?” question.
Former Escalon High School teacher and coach Rusty Fachner contacted me about the dedication of a ball field in Sketti’s honor and said, since it was a football Friday, he would be happy to cover it. And even though I couldn’t be there, I knew the story was in good hands. Rusty has often talked about doing some freelance work for us and, based on the info he provided while he was the head golf coach at EHS, I knew the article would hit all the high notes.
There are those people you come across in this life that just make you smile. Sketti was one of those people. I never saw him in a bad mood. He was always upbeat, always positive, always had something to add in to whatever conversation was in progress when he arrived on the scene.
He loved baseball, he loved his wife, he loved his kids, his grandkids and that love also went out to plenty of extended family. And he was a man who loved his community.
Escalon should have a Sketti Field; it’s only fitting that a man who gave so much to the town he called home be recognized in return.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.