Tracing Tracy Territory: Last dropof Heinz soon to be history
by Sam Matthews
May 03, 2013 | 3662 views | 0 0 comments | 276 276 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The last vestiges of the H.J. Heinz Co. in Tracy will soon be history.

Heinz, for more than a half-century, a principal in Tracy history, closed its local production factory in January 1998, and then sold the building.

But for several years, the maker of 57 varieties continued operating the 150,000-square-foot warehouse at the back end of the factory building. The warehouse, with 75 truck doors, received, stored and shipped Heinz products to customers throughout the western U.S.

About nine years ago, Heinz outsourced the warehouse operation to Cascade Logistics, but that, too, is now ending. Beginning next month, Heinz products will be shipped out of a warehouse near Stockton Metropolitan Airport by another firm, Ryder.

That will mean 35 workers at the local warehouse — many of whom were original Heinz employees and all still members of Local 601 of the Teamsters Cannery Workers Union — will lose their jobs, reported one of the workers who did not want his name mentioned. None will be hired by Ryder, which is a non-union operation.

It’s a far cry from 1946 through 1997 — the years the Tracy Heinz plant was in operation — when as many as 1,000 workers in some years processed more than a half-million tons of tomatoes for basic Heinz products, especially the firm’s signature ketchup.

For Heinz, it’s a final goodbye to Tracy and hello to Omaha, Neb., the home of Warren Buffet, the soon-to-be major owner of the company.

Author, author!

A number of Press readers of old should remember Francis “Frankie” Garland, our sports editor in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Frankie, who later reported sports and other stories for the Manteca Bulletin, Tri-Valley Herald and Stockton Record, is now a program director for the Journalism Communications Program at Gannon University in Erie, Pa.

That’s quite an accomplishment in itself, but as they say in so many of those hard-sell television commercials, But wait, there’s more!

Frankie has authored a book. It’s a biography of Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Stargell. The book, “Willie Stargell, a Life in Baseball,” has been released by McFarland & Co., a publisher of academic and nonfiction books

“I spent most of the last six summers working on the book, and although it’s far from perfect, it’s a good read,” Frankie wrote me via e-mail.

He reported that he interviewed more than 80 people — boyhood friends, minor- and major-league teammates and opponents, family members, retirement-days associates, and “lots of material from old newspaper accounts of his on- and off-field exploits.”

The McFarland people say the book explains the factors that shaped Stargell as a man growing up in the tumultuous racial times of the 1950s and ’60s and recreates the major moments of his Hall of Fame baseball career.

The book “sheds light on the iconic patriarch of one of baseball’s last great ‘families,’ the 1970s-era Pittsburgh Pirates,” said the McFarland blurb.

If you’re a baseball fan, especially of the Pirates, you can order the book by e-mail from McFarland for $29.95.

I’ve known since his days at the Press that Frankie is one of the hardest-working guys around. Researching and writing the book took a lot of work. Spending the past six summers working on it attests to his work ethic.

Frankie’s brief biography posted by the book-publisher firm says that he is a native of Pittsburgh. Close, but a bit wide of the plate.

Frankie hails from McKees Rocks, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, as he reminded me numerous times while punching out stories on a manual typewriter at the Press.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at
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