If you played men’s or women’s softball – either fast pitch or slow pitch – in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, and you played a tournament in Tahoe City, there’s a good chance you visited Pete ‘n Peters, the sports bar and restaurant that for the past four decades has been the softball mecca of North Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve been here 40 years and it’s always been about softball,” said current Pete ‘n Peters owner John Rutter. “It’s not as big as it used to be with the fast pitch gone but we still have the league meetings here, have the standings posted and all the teams come in following their games.”

Later this month – Saturday June 18th to be exact – Pete ‘n Peters will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Tahoe City. And, according to Rutter, while the party is open to anyone, he would like to invite former softball players who have played in Tahoe City over the years.

The party is free of charge. There will be Za’s appetizers and an outside bar. There will be a deejay playing tunes with dancing under a tent in the parking lot. In honor of the anniversary, prices have been rolled back to 1976 for the month of June.

“It should be a great time,’ said Rutter who along with Jonny Roscher of Za’s is hosting the reunion. “We’re looking forward to seeing some faces maybe we haven’t seen in awhile.”

For many years, Tahoe City hosted three big men’s fast pitch tournaments a year. There was the Vince Deal Memorial Tournament played on Father’s Day weekend, the Pete Perata Classic on the July 4th holiday weekend, and the annual season-ending Richard Rodarte Memorial tourney played in August.

In 1978, Tahoe City became the smallest venue per population capita at the time in Amateur Softball Association history to host a National Tournament when the Class A Men’s National Championship was hosted by the Tahoe City Parks and Recreation Department. The tournament headquarters for the national was of course Pete ‘n Peters.

Many teams from Colfax, Grass Valley and Roseville competed in fast pitch tournaments in Tahoe City and Auburn always had slow pitch teams vying. The trophy case in Pete ‘ Peters is filled with softball awards, photos and much more history from past accomplishments.

In a 2004 Tahoe World article about Pete ‘n Peters being the hub of the town’s softball activity, former co-owner Peter Paine recalled the history:

“We built the bar around softball,” said Paine. “Softball was a big event in this town all through the 70s before Pete ‘n Peters was here, after Pete ‘n Peters was here, and in the late 80s. Softball was a really big event.”

Pete Perata, the “Pete” of Pete ‘n Peters, met Paine in 1958, while the two worked as bellhops at Squaw Valley Lodge. Some time after they met, Perata left Squaw and went on to start Perata Excavation, Inc. Paine continued to work at Squaw until 1969, at which time he took a job at an Italian restaurant at Bacchi’s Inn for the next seven years; but he remained good friends with Perata.

As Perata’s business began to prosper, so did the popularity of softball in the area. Although pick-up games were common in Truckee and Squaw Valley in the early 60s, the fast pitch softball heritage as it survives today officially began in 1964, when Perata was a major player in the development of the Tahoe City Adult Recreation League and sponsored his first fast pitch team, Perata Excavation.

After the conclusion of the 1975 season, Perata and Paine signed the lease for Pete ‘n Peters in November 1975, and they saw it open on Feb. 1, 1976, in its current location on North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City. With Paine playing second base and catching for the Perata team and Perata managing the team, there was an obvious connection between the bar and softball.

“A great number of people that have lived in this town for over 20 years have been customers of this bar mainly because of softball,” Paine said. “People that have lived here for a long time have all played softball from time to time.”

Demonstrated by the major local softball events like the Perata Invitational, softball, especially on the weekends, was something the community rallied around. Spectators in excess of 1,000 were not uncommon, and close to 1,500 fans watched the Tahoe City All-Stars defeat the King and His Court in the summer of 1978.

“Saturdays and Sundays were an event,” Paine said. “It was something for people to do. (Beyond the outfield fence) would be lined up with trucks, and people would be sitting on the backs of flatbed trucks rooting for the Perata team.”

When Perata sold his excavating company in 1978, it marked the beginning of another era in fastpitch folklore – the formation of the Pete ‘n Peters team, playing in more traditional red, white and blue uniforms. For a short while, it played against Perata, but it became the dominate team in the 80s when the Perata team became extinct.

“They called us the ‘Other Guys’ because Perata was the better team,” said Paine, who managed and played for the Pete ‘n Peters team. “Perata was the best team, and we’d always lose to ’em. We decided we’d go out and play tournaments, then we’d lose two games (in double elimination ).

Pete ‘n Peters’ team eventually went on to have its own success winning Nevada zone and state championships and advancing to the Cactus Regionals which consisted of Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

On June 18, some of those former players, fans and friends will be on hand to help celebrate the history of softball and Pete ‘n Peters.

For more information on the celebration visit www.petenpeters.com. – Auburn Journal