Baseball

Donald A. Eraldi

December 21, 1926 ~ October 11, 2022 (age 95) 95 Years Old

Obituary

With sadness we mourn the loss of Donald Anthony Eraldi who died on October 11, 2022 at the age of 95. He is remembered as beloved father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, Plaza merchant and friend.

Don was born in San Francisco, California on December 21, 1926, the middle child of Annie and David Eraldi. A lifelong resident of Sonoma, Don attended Sonoma Grammar School and Sonoma High School. World War II interrupted his high school education; he left school at the age of 15, to help his mother in the family business, Eraldi's Menswear. At the age of 18, Don was drafted and served 18 months in the United States Navy. His ship, the USS Gregory DD802, was sailing in the Pacific when they received the order to return to port because the War had ended. He returned to Sonoma to finish high school and was given a years credit for his military service.

Don married his sweetheart, Faye Baetge, in 1950. Together they built two homes, on East Napa St., and later in Mission Highlands. Together they raised their daughter Marianne, and son Dan. Their home became a year round gathering place for friends and family. Don taught generations to dive in the family pool. His youth was spent playing sports, hunting and fishing. The boys from his neighborhood worked hard to clear the field next to their house and create a regulation size baseball diamond.

They used sand-filled gunny sacks as bases, and built a crude backstop out of wooden fruit boxes. He went on to excel in basketball and men's fast-pitch softball. He played first base, and was a guard on his basketball teams. Don continued to be a key member on sports teams in the Sonoma County area until his 50's, when he decided that it was time for him to retire his glove.

Still a competitor, Don took up bowling and bowled in the 200s well into his 80's. He started shooting pool at age 15 with his mother's permission. Even late in his life many a young man walked into Steiner's Tavern hoping to best Don at pool; most failed.

Don and his brother came up with an idea of a new ballpark for Sonoma back in 1949. They worked with city planners and influential townspeople. The project was finally finished and was named Arnold Field. The first softball game was played in 1951. The first football game ever played locally under the lights was in 1952.

Don's love of sports led him to join the Native Sons of the Golden West, Sonoma Parlor 111. He played on the N.S.G.W. basketball and fast-pitch baseball teams. He received his 75 year pin for service in the Native Sons from Ron Brocco in 2021.

As a hunter and fisherman, Don was also a conservationist and caretaker of the land. He spent his life roaming the mountains and valleys of his native California noting the changes over the decades. He prided himself on being a "pot hunter," meaning all the game and fish he had taken were eaten by family and friends. He kept the local springs clear near his home, so that wildlife would have water, and, when clearing brush, left habitat for quail. He was proud to have contributed as a Local Elder for Creek Wisdom - An Ecological History of Sonoma Valley.

In 2011 Eraldi's Menswear was named Business of the Year by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce. Don worked in the store with his family nearly every day until his retirement at age 86. Folks walking the Plaza early in the morning would often be greeted by Don sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store. Eraldi's was nominated for their "old-fashioned, personalized customer service, exceptional inventory of high-quality men's clothing and support of community projects." Don helped generations of Sonomans find the perfect pair of Levis, a tuxedo for the prom, or footwear for hard working Valley residents.

In addition to knotting his tie before work each morning, Don could be found walking his German Shorthair Pointers, splitting logs for a winter fire, and tending his fruit trees. He never let a moment pass idle. Don was a man who wore many hats - as a father, a husband, a business partner, an athlete, a gardener, wood-chopper, outdoorsman. He was aware of our footprint on the planet, and indeed he left his unique mark on Sonoma Valley.

Don is survived by his daughter Marianne Eraldi (Michael Bangs), and his son Dan Eraldi (Vikki); his granddaughter Christine Massary (Mario), and granddaughter Claire Eraldi, and great-granddaughter, Leah Massary. He was preceded in death by his wife Faye, his infant daughter Carol, his parents Annie and David, his brother Dave, and his sister Doris. 

The family would like to thank our friends at Hill House, Rosa Soto and her family and staff for the loving care afforded to Don in the past six years.

Private family services will be held. Those wishing to donate in Don's name may consider Arnold Field, Sonoma’s Vintage House, or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

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Services

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Donations

Arnold Field
Sononma CA
Web: http://arnoldfield.org

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley
100 West Verano Avenue, Sonoma CA 95476
Tel: 1-707-938-8544
Web: http://bgcsonoma.org/donate.html

Vintage House of Sonoma
264 First Street East, Sonoma CA 95476
Tel: 1-707-996-0311
Web: https://vintagehouse.org/donate/

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