One of the last hop growers in California was born Bernard Joseph Rooney ’52, but very few people actually knew his birth name. “Babe,” as he was known to friends and foes alike, was a fourth generation Sacramentan—his great grandfather came from Ireland at the beginning of the Gold Rush and the family flourished there ever since. A tough kid born in the Great Depression, Babe got in a fight his first day of school, explaining “Some first grader called me a kindergarten baby, so I took a poke at him.” After graduating from Santa Clara, Babe was offered an all-expense paid trip to Korea through the Army draft during the war. When he returned, he married the nicest girl in the area, Marilyn Greene. For most of their 63 years of marriage, Babe farmed hops in Sloughhouse while Marilyn took care of the home in Arden Park. When hops left the area due to economic reasons, he grew sweet corn and grain for a few years before retiring. As a crafty, left-handed pitcher in fast-pitch softball, Babe pitched in hundreds of games in Sacramento leagues for over 35 years. His win-loss record can’t be verified, but he insisted it was impressive. He is survived by his older brother, his wife, daughter, four sons, and eight grandchildren.

14 Dec 2020