When the San Luis Obispo Blues play at SLO Stadium, a local family sits on the grassy hill behind the Blues’ dugout on collapsible chairs. They’re all fans of the Blues, but they scream especially loud any time Harley Faye steps to the plate.
But they aren’t a part of the Faye bloodline, they are a Blues host family who has taken Faye into their home for the summer.
It’s the second year in a row that Tim and Colleen Bojorquez have invited a California Collegiate League player to join their team of four.
“For me, they are just part of the family. If you’re going to come in my house, I’m going to treat you like family,” Colleen said Friday night during a game against the Southern California Catch.
The family says hosting a player shows their children, baseball loving son Curran and daughter Bailey, what it’s like to be a young adult in college.
“Having little kids we wanted them to see what it takes to do something like this, the dedication they need, the importance that school plays in this because they wouldn’t be able to (play baseball) if they weren’t good in school,” Tim Bojorquez said.
“It’s a second home, it really is,” said Faye, who has the third highest batting average on the Blues. “Curran and Bailey are pretty much like my little siblings.”
While there are a few local players like SLO High’s Garrett Giovannelli on the team, the majority of the players on the Blues roster come from around the country. Thanks to 17 local families and a program that started in 2008, those 28 Blues staff and players have a place to live for three months. And the families get a $200 stipend and other perks, such as T-shirts and tickets.
Blues players say the host families are the backbone of the summer leagues.
“Without them, not just the California League, the Cape Cod (League), Northwoods (League), none of it would happen. These kids would have nowhere to go, and it’s just the best,” said Faye, who grew up in Studio City and played last season at Hendrix College in Arkansas.
For another host family, the Doerr family, it’s all about their grandson, Ryan. He has spent parts of his summer playing kickball and basketball with Blues’ shortstop and Georgia Bulldogs infielder Nick King.
“It’s awesome,” said Ryan, who begged his grandparents to host a player.
“Nick was very nice and came to one of Ryan’s last little league games,” said Barbara Doerr, who said she and her husband hosted a Blues player last year. “Last year and this year both, extremely polite, no problem whatsoever.”
But problems are bound to creep up. Blues Host Family Coordinator Marianne Stowe says that despite a few “minor” issues, the interactions between the families and the players have been positive.
Stowe says she relies on a players’ GPA and recommendations from college coaches to mitigate any issues.
“We have had host families ask ‘how do I know (about the player)? Do you fingerprint them?’ No we don’t,” Stowe said, “and we don’t fingerprint our host family either.”
During the past three years as coordinator, Stowe says, there have been no criminal issues. This season, the Blues implemented a player packet in response to past issues giving expectations of the family and the players. Rules include players not being allowed to have overnight guests and families not having to provide every meal, though they can if they want to.
As far as the host families, Stowe personally meets each family and inspects the host family’s home before bringing them into the fold.
King, who is from Palm Springs, has heard players from other teams complain about issues with host families, but says he’s heard nothing bad from his Blues teammates this season.
The biggest issues for the players The Tribune spoke to were pretty normal.
“(The children) are very early risers. They get up at like five in the morning,” King said. It’s a complaint echoed by Faye. Luckily, both players have multiple siblings so they knew the drill.
“They have been such good guys and all of them have been really good with the kids. And our kids are not easy. They like to be involved,” Colleen Bojorquez said, laughing.
Most of the people involved say the host program has become a mutually beneficial program that keeps one of SLO’s favorite pastimes afloat.
A tradition the Bojorquez family will continue. "It's almost like we're part of the Blues being a host family," Tim said.