Former Sacramento Solons owner, Fred David, dead at 100

A pioneering member in Sacramento sports history, Fred David died on October 17, at the age of 100.

David once owned a Pacific Coast League baseball team from my hometown, the Sacramento Solons, and I did my senior project in high school on it. I interviewed a number of former players and people associated with the club, including David who was 91 at the time. David first worked in the concession stand for the Solons at the age of 15 and became a stockholder in the team in 1944. He bought it ten years later at a time of uncertainty for the club, starting with $1,000, as he told me, “to keep baseball in Sacramento.” David owned the Solons from 1954 to 1960, when they moved to Honolulu. Their ballpark Edmonds Field was torn down in 1964, and a Target sits today on the site, with a plaque in the parking lot marking home plate.

A number of relics from Edmonds Field wound up in a warehouse David owned in downtown Sacramento at 10th and R Street for his primary business, The David Candy Company. David let me go inside the warehouse at the time of our interview and even gave me a score book from 1957 that I later got autographed by another interview subject, former Solon and Chicago Cubs catcher Cuno Barragan. Inside David’s warehouse was old seating, PA and scoreboard equipment. I gave David a list of written questions, asking among them why he still had so much of the memorabilia. “After we sold the stadium, I salvaged what I could,” David wrote. “It was a great memory.”

I learned recently from David’s niece, Diana Thomas of Santa Barbara, that he died 16 days after turning 100. He had wanted to make 100, Thomas explained, and after achieving this, his body went downhill rapidly. He was lucid up until the end. She said the warehouse is still in the family, which calls it The Building, and it hasn’t been gone through yet. An estate sale is pending.

Retired baseball scout Ronnie King, 82, knew David as a kid, before either man got into baseball. King last spoke with David about 15 years ago and learned of his passing through a mutual friend.

Asked if David made a meaningful contribution to Sacramento sports, King told Baseball Past and Present, “Oh, sure, sure. In fact if he didn’t buy it (in 1954), they probably would have left then, because there was a couple other cities that wanted the Solons.”

Another Sacramento franchise, the Monarchs of the Women’s National Basketball Association folded on November 20, seven weeks after David died. King didn’t hold back when asked what David would have made of the decision.

“I think he would have been a little shook up about it, because I think he always thought that sports did something for the city,” King said.

When I interviewed David in 2001, I asked him how the candy industry, which he worked in for much of his life differed from baseball. “Business is business– work,” he wrote. “But I loved baseball. I guess I was a good fan.”

0 thoughts on “Former Sacramento Solons owner, Fred David, dead at 100”

  1. Graham—thank you SO much for writing this memorial for Uncle Fred. I will pass this on to his remaining siblings (there are 2 of them left.) I still have no idea when the estate sale will be held, but it will be well into the beginning of the new year, I suspect. It will be advertised, you keep your eyes open in the daily newspapers. Thanks again, Graham, I appreciate your need to complete the “picture” for us regarding the Sacramento Solons and our family.
    Best to you, Diana Thomas

    1. Hi Diana,
      Thanks for your kind words and thanks for reading. I will definitely keep a look out for news of the sale, whenever it is to be. If you’d like to give me a heads up, I’d be happy to write a preview here.
      Thanks again,
      Graham

  2. I was surprised and pleased to find that Fred had made it to 100. I worked for him back around 1983 or so and he left a lasting impression on me. He was a fascinating man. I still have a copy of a Lebanese cook book that his wife published. I had totally forgotten about that.

    I was a regular patron at the Fox and Goose in the early eighties, and that’s how I came to know Fred. He was a good man, and was a great believer in people. Although a shrewd businessman he generously gave many people a lift toward realizing their dreams. I will drink to Fred’s honor this week.

  3. As a kid growing up I listened to Tony Koester on the radio broadcasts of games and got to Edmonds Field all too seldom. I was a long suffering fan of the team that was seldom strong though they had some stronger years in the late fifties, but could not do well enough to keep people switching their attention to the Giants who newly came to SF.It brings back memories to read this news. I think it was obscene that the old field was torn down. I visited there a few years back and saw the monument to where the old home plate was. I have to take issue with the placement, but what do I know?

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