By Matt Schwab of Matt Schwab Media

San Francisco Giants third base coach Ron Wotus has stood on baseball’s grandest stages and provided Little League coaching clinics for 25 years. So, who better to turn to than “Wo” for perspective about Islanders Field, a newly minted showcase ballpark for amateur players?

When Islanders Field was rolled out in May 2019 as part of the master-planned River Islands community, Field Director Don Johns began presiding over a dream ballpark that many are comparing to Division I college or Double-A pro fields.

Likewise, Johns’ buddy Wotus has been enjoying the view as a regular visitor.

“It was a great idea and the facility certainly came out gorgeous. What a nice setting out there,” Wotus said in an interview on Jan 2.

Clearly, Islanders Field in a picturesque San Joaquin River Delta setting, taps into Wotus’ love of the game.

“I was just out there with Don at the Christmas party at River Islands,” Wotus said. “We went over and looked at the field again. He’s done a wonderful job with that facility; he’s very proud of it. For me it’s a well-needed facility in the community. Don’s been involved with amateur baseball his whole life and really knows that side of it.

“It’s kind of twofold: There’s not many stadiums that are available to hold events that have everything that this stadium has … The other side of it is it really is a nice centerpiece for that community to utilize not just for baseball but for other events as needed,” Wotus continued.

Johns, a Western Pa. native, has had a long friendship with Wotus, dating to Johns’ time as San Ramon Valley Little League President. Wotus and former pro players Erik Johnson and Joe Millette once ran coaching clinics for 20 Little Leagues. Wotus also once worked with Johns’ son, Matt, when Don, as a Dad Coach, had to step away at that age group.

“We have been personal friends starting after his playing days with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and watching him manage for the Giants at A, AA and AAA,” Johns said of Wotus, a Pirates’ 16thround pick in the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft.“I tell everyone that watching him manage a team you see how good he is with the players and with the aggressive strategy of the play.It is basic baseball, but his teams always executed the small part of the offensive game and could always play great defense.

“Keep in mind, he has coached with the S.F. Giants with three legends …Felipe Alou, Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy and been the bench coach also and coaching 3rdbase. He’s been around Hall of Fame Giants legends like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and of course Barry Bonds, to name a few.”

Consider Wotus a cherished friend of the River Islands community. After Johns introduced him at the Christmas party, the coaching legend said that what is being built at River Islands is more than houses, but a community with parks and recreation for everyone and people feeling like they belong somewhere special.

Johns simply couldn’t imagine not having Wotus connected to his baseball program.

“When I started working with Susan Dell’Osso at River Islands, KNBR was doing some marketing with Marty Lurie, so it was a natural to get Ron, “The Professor,” Wotus involved,” Johns said proudly. “He has been at the River Islands Christmas Party the past two years, wearing the championship ring and is such a great ambassador for the S.F. Giants, River Islands and Islanders Field.He loves to connect with people, they all want a picture with him with the ring, so it is a lot of fun for everyone.It is a family affair for me with my son-in-law Johnny Rodrigues, my son Matt, and Ron.”

At Islanders Field, something special is in the air. Johns’ showcase events feature top teenage players who finally have a place to showcase their skills close to home in front of college and pro scouts. The ballpark has filled a void in the NorCal baseball scene.

“A place like this that’s accessible, and Don coordinates all these events, it’s a gem to have out there at River Islands,” Wotus says.

Wotus, a native of Connecticut, has been in the East Bay for over 30 years, ever since he was managing for the Giants in the minor leagues. His wife, Laurie, is from Martinez. He has a deep connection with fans and baseball aficionados in the area.

“Whether it’s through longevity or through the success we’ve had as well or just the relationships, it’s special to me,” Wotus said of his local connections. “The Giants are special. I played two years as a Triple-A player for them, then I managed at the minor leagues. I’ve certainly known people for almost a lifetime here.
“Life is more important than your job and to be able to have special relationships with people in this organization and the fans and the community, it makes my life that much fuller to be able to do that in a place that I live. It’s hard to recreate that in professional sports,” he continued.

Wotus is gearing up for his 23rd season with the Giants, this time under new manager Gabe Kapler. He figures to provide invaluable experience on a new-look coaching staff.

“I’m looking forward to another year,” Wotus said. “Obviously we’ve had a lot of changes and I’m excited to get to know the new coaches and the manager, more and more.”

Soon, spring will arrive and offer a sense of renewal for Wotus and the Giants, as it always does. The same goes for the talented teens who will sharpen their skills at Islanders Field. It’s all for the love of the game.

Not one, but TWO leading real estate consulting firms have named River Islands as one of the most popular master-planned communities in the country! This is River Islands’ second straight appearance in a row on the John Burns’ Top 50 Master-Planned Communities List and the first time on the RCL Real Estate Advisors’ Top-Selling Master Planned Communities of 2019.

We are so proud to be recognized as one of the best, and we wanted to share it with all of you! This honor is a reflection of the community’s vision and our ability to offer something new in home design and community amenities every year.

If you’ve never “Escaped to the Islands” before and are looking for a new place to call home, here are a few reasons we think you’ll love calling our community home.

Brand New Homes!

Eleven neighborhoods are currently open with several slated to sell out within the next few weeks. The new home neighborhoods are being offered in collections, with one- and two-story homes now selling. We invite you to come see what’s new at the Lakeside Collection, the Parkside Collection, and the Town Center Collection. Coming later this spring and summer: The Academy Collection and the Trailside Collection!

Home designs range in size from 3 bedrooms all the way up to 6 bedrooms! Whether you’re living the empty-nester life or looking to grow your family, the perfect home you’ve been dreaming of could be waiting for you right here in our friendly Lathrop community.

Explore the neighborhoods on our WEBSITE and use our HOMEFINDER Tool to find your perfect match!

Top-Notch Schools

Our community is not just set apart by our resort-style amenities and lifestyle, but also by the outstanding academics. River Islands plans to build a total of seven schools within its community. A third K-8 campus is in the works right now with its location expected to be closer to the newer neighborhoods. The Next Generation STEAM Academy is also set to undergo an expansion with new classrooms on the way. Learn more about our schools and plans for the future HERE.

Enjoy the Lakeside Lifestyle

We saved the best for last! Our amenities and lakeside lifestyle make River Islands the home of the 7-day weekend. There are plenty of places to play and enjoy, including kid-friendly parks, a scenic trail, and lake activities like paddleboarding and canoeing. We even have our very own restaurant: The Boathouse is where you can grab a delicious bite with friends and family by the water (and play a few rounds of bocce ball after dinner!). Want to know more about our lakeside lifestyle? Get all the details HERE.

The Welcome Center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so stop by and chat with our Home Specialists with any of your questions! Don’t forget to download our free mobile app to find directions to the model homes you’ll love by texting RIMobile to 797979 for direct links to the Apple App Store and Google Play. ????