Let's raise a glass to this weeks stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series, Stockton and the California Delta.
Let's make it a glass of water. And let's make it $100 a glass.
Actually, that's what water from the California Delta was sold for during the Gold Rush Days of 1849, when fortune seekers were hiking west across the Nevada desert to find their bonanza in the mountains above Central California. It's said that enterprising folks from the Central Valley would pack up barrels of water and meet the parched travelers with a quenching drink for an eye-popping price.
Could be some exaggeration involved in that tale, but troublesome practices like fact-checking have never hobbled our host city previews in the past, so let's forge ahead with more legend and lore from the Stockton area:
• Being the furthest-east deep water channel on the West Coast, Stockton was a natural jumping off place for the Gold Rush 49'ers who weren't hiking overland. The Gold Rush put Stockton (and San Francisco) on the map, but when it was all over a short time later, agriculture became king. The fertile land here was soon enhanced by mile after mile of dug canals that would make it possible to get the crops to port. These canals, crisscrossing the natural channels of the rivers that flow into the valley, make up the 1,000-plus miles of waterways that our BASS pros will be fishing this week.
• If you watched The Big Valley on TV as a kid, you should know that (a) you are certainly not a kid anymore, and (b) the fictional stories were set right here in the Stockton area.
• Stockton was the first community in California to have a name that wasn't Spanish or Native American in origin.
• The respected University of the Pacific is here in Stockton and the football coach at its forerunner, College of the Pacific, was the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg.
• Janet Leigh, the screamer from the movie Psycho, was a student at UOP, as was her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis.
• Speaking of the movies, Stockton and the area have served as locations for hundreds of them, including Cool Hand Luke, All the Kings Men, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and many more.
In fact, Stockton's Miracle Mile was the main drag in American Graffiti. Oops, check that it was actually American Graffiti II. (See how fact-checking usually leads to disappointment?) The Delta has often been used as a Vietnam location in the movies.
• Duraflame is headquartered here. Every time you burn one of those attractively packaged log-type products, you're burning a little bit of Stockton.
• The Caterpillar tractor was invented in Stockton.
• Stan Lee's "Fantastic Four" comic book series supposedly originates in Stockton.
• Original names of Stockton: "Tuleburg" for all the tules or round grass reeds in these wetlands.
"Mudville" also wetlands related. If that name sounds familiar, it's because, yes, it was the home city of the "Mudville Nine" in the famous poem, "Casey at the Bat" which was first published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888.
• One more bit of movie-related trivia. In the movie Spinal Tap, the low point for the fictional heavy-metal band's U.S. tour was their appearance at a Stockton amusement park. Their billing read: "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap."
This week, the Bassmasters are guaranteed placement on the bill above the puppet show.
Editor's Note: ESPNOutdoors.com's new and exclusive pre-game show, Hooked Up, will start at 5:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, March 25. It will be hosted by ESPN2 Bassmaster television hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, and can be seen in the same location on ESPNOutdoors.com where the live video weigh-in is streamed. Click here for more information.