Petaluma, California is a town with about 60,000 people and two high schools. There have been very few players in major league baseball who grew up in Petaluma, and two of them are in Reno this weekend.
Jonny Gomes was a 13-year major league veteran and is now the out fielding and baserunning coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Konrad Schmidt had 15 major league at-bats and is the Nevada Sports Net color analyst for the Reno Aces. They are two players with different careers, but very similar backgrounds.
They attended cross-town rival high schools - Schmidt went to Petaluma High School and Gomes went to Casa Grande High School. They were just three years apart but didn't know each other personally.
With Schmidt being younger, and later going onto play for the same Junior College as Gomes, he looked up to him.
"He went to Casa and I went to Petaluma High, that was like the cross-town rivalry. So, I knew who he was, but it was when he went to junior college and all that kind of went away," Schmidt said.
On the other side, after already having gone through Santa Rosa Junior College, Gomes heard a lot about Schmidt coming up and kept tabs on him.
"My brother does a lot of youth stuff and the same coaches, you know, at the Junior College and they told me 'This catcher that we got here is coming, pay attention, he going to be coming soon,'" Gomes explained.
Gomes made his major league debut in 2003 with the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which was somewhat of a motivation for Schmidt to do the same thing.
"It was like 'Okay, Jonny Gomes was the guy that got drafted,' and I wanted to be the next guy to get drafted out of Santa Rosa Junior College," Schmidt said.
When the day finally came, it was special for the two players and Santa Rosa Junior College. On September 13, 2010, Konrad Schmidt made his major league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Cincinnati against the Reds. The starting left fielder for the Reds that day was Jonny Gomes. The two Santa Rosa Junior College products on the field at the same time and Schmidt went into the clubhouse with a surprise waiting for him.
"There was a bottle of champagne, which I still have, unopened, in my locker from Jonny. It said 'Tough times go away, tough people don't. Do it for the 707,'" Schmidt detailed.
Gomes enjoyed being there for Schmidt's debut for both himself and for their hometown.
"You go all the way back to, you know, Petaluma, and Junior College and when you're talking the history of the schools and the town, not many dudes come out of there. So, all of the sudden, to have two of them in the same stadium, sharing the same area code, sharing the same roots, it was pretty cool, and it was cool for the area, too," Gomes said.
Although they don't remember a ton of press coming from Petaluma, when Schmidt went to San Francisco, it was a big deal.
With Gomes coaching in Reno for the weekend games against the Sacramento River Cats and Schmit handling the color commentating duties on NSN, the two were reunited once again.
"Where we're from, you can move away but you still have the roots. Just growing up in that area you just instantly have a lot in common. I don't live there anymore, he doesn't live there anymore, but it's cool to get back to some old stories and whatnot," Gomes said.
Jonny Gomes and Konrad Schmidt share a lot of their background. From the same home town to junior college to the big leagues all from an area that doesn't have many athletes come out of it, their story is special. They will always share that hometown bond, and now that they are both affiliated in some way with the Diamondbacks organization, that bond grows even stronger.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.