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Chilcott Was the Choice in ’66--When Stengel Wasn’t Around

Clemson right-hander Kris Benson had one of his most significant days in baseball Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates made him the top pick in this year’s amateur draft.

For Steve Chilcott, that day came 30 years ago.

Chilcott, then a 17-year-old catcher at Antelope Valley High, was selected by the New York Mets as the top pick of the 1966 draft.

He was scouted by the legendary Casey Stengel, who was working for the Mets.

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In a 1994 interview with The Times, Chilcott recalled the attention he received from major league teams during his senior season: “It was kind of funny,” he said. “There were usually more scouts in the stands than fans. It would be 25 scouts and 20 fans.

“Casey Stengel came to town. . . . By the second or third inning, there were hundreds of people there checking him out. Then, after Casey left, it was just those 25 scouts and 20 fans.”

Chilcott, now a construction supervisor in Santa Barbara, never reached the majors. His career was derailed by injuries and he was out of baseball by 1972.

Add draft day: The second player picked in the 1966 draft was Reggie Jackson, by the Kansas City Athletics. Jackson had been a star at Arizona State.

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Sweet dreams: Jamie Gillies and the Saugus High softball team put to rest two years of disappointment by defeating Irvine Woodbridge, 1-0, on Friday to win their first Southern Section championship.

So how did Gillies, the winning pitcher, celebrate?

“I went home and slept,” she said. “I was emotionally and physically drained.”

In 1994 and ’95, Gillies was in the pitcher’s circle for top-seeded Saugus teams that were upset before they reached the title game.

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Gillies ditched those memories by allowing only one run--and even that was unearned--in five playoff games this year. Her performance was cause for relief as well as elation.

“I was glad it was over,” she said, “but I was happy.”

Gillies said she didn’t mind missing the postgame party. “The parents and coaches went to [a restaurant] and had happy hour,” she said.

Coach Ron Hilton reveled in the company, who had no reason to grumble or second-guess his coaching methods.

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“Last year, I almost didn’t come back,” Hilton said. “All the garbage I had to deal with . . . I’m glad I did.”

To error is . . . a bad habit: Something about Linfield High seems to bring out the worst in the Cornerstone Christian softball team.

Linfield has knocked Cornerstone Christian out of the playoffs three consecutive years, primarily because of errors. In a recent Southern Section Division VI game, Cornerstone Christian errors led to two unearned runs, including the winning run in the top of the seventh inning.

At least the Eagles are headed in the right direction. In their latest game against Linfield, they committed three errors. In the previous two, they combined for 15.

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Queasy glider: It’s a good thing for Michelle Perry of Quartz Hill High that feeling poorly before a race doesn’t necessarily dictate a poor performance.

Otherwise, Perry would not have posted personal bests of 42.68 seconds in the 300-meter low hurdles and 14.37 in the 100 highs Saturday in the State track and field championships at Cerritos College.

Perry placed third in the 300 lows and fifth in the 100 highs, despite feeling ill.

“I’m happy with the way I ran, but I just don’t like the way I felt before the races,” Perry said after moving to second on the all-time region list in the 300 lows.

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Quotebook

“The Mariners told him somewhere between the 10th and 15th rounds. But scouts are full of it until they show up with the paperwork.”

-- Quartz Hill High Coach Dave Stradling, after The Times’ Valley Player of the Year Bryan Garcia was not drafted in the first 19 rounds Tuesday.

Stats

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Cal State Northridge track and field recruits Jason Hammond of Fowler High, Will Bernaldo of Nordhoff and Christina Magana of Fallbrook each placed among the top six finishers in their respective events Saturday in the State championships at Cerritos College.

Hammond won the boys’ shotput at 64 feet 4 inches and placed third in the discus at 179-6.

Bernaldo finished second in the boys’ 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes 4.18 seconds and Magana was sixth in the girls’ discus at 140-10.

Hammond is the first state high school champion to sign with Northridge since 1986 when the Matadors landed Darcy Arreola of La Mesa Grossmont, the girls’ 1,600 champion.

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Kim Mortensen’s victory in the girls’ 3,200 meters in the State meet at Cerritos College on Saturday gave Thousand Oaks its seventh individual state title in track.

Marion Jones and Marlene Harmon accounted for the others. Jones won the 100, 200 and long jump in 1993 and the 100 and 200 in ’92.

Harmon won the long jump in 1980.

Things to Do

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High school softball standouts from Ventura County will play in an all-star game at Borchard Park in Newbury Park, starting this evening at 6.

Contributing: Fernando Dominguez, Dana Haddad, Michael Lazarus, John Ortega, Lauren Peterson.


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