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Yuba City man pitches in for Little League

When the Sutter Buttes Little League lost baseball equipment to a burglary in early December, Yuba City resident Ray Janssen stepped up to the plate and offered to cover the cost of the players' equipment.

Janssen, 83, said his own roots to the sport reach back to playing with Don Larsen in 1950 when the future New York Yankee was on the same armed forces team as Janssen.

"What a super nice guy," Janssen said of Larsen, who would go on to pitch a perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A break-in at buildings of the Sutter Buttes Little League field in Yuba City earlier this month resulted in the loss of about $20,000 in baseball equipment, snack bar supplies, propane and other goods, league officials said. Janssen estimated the cost to replace the uniforms at about $1,000.

"They stole anything you can think of," Heather Shelton said at the time. "It goes on and on."

Janssen recalled enlisting in the US Navy as a 17-year-old after being raised in a New Jersey orphanage. The military meant an early way out of the orphanage, said Janssen, who remembers his surprise at hearing that the Navy would provide him with housing, his uniform — and a paycheck for his service.

He was once assigned to show actor Gary Cooper around the USS Valley Forge aircraft carrier, Janssen recounted. Cooper ended up inviting him and other soldiers to his home.

"He was just one of the nicest men I've met," the Yuba City resident said.

Janssen, who earned a degree in business law and criminology, went on to a career that included work as a security specialist for the Department of Defense. He has lived in Yuba City for almost a decade.

He supports the Christmas barbecue of the Yuba City Police Department and also regularly brings pizzas to the department.

"Yuba City has the finest police department in the state," Janssen said. "That's my opinion."

Sutter County Sheriff J. Paul Parker also thanked him in a letter for his "obvious commitment to law and order in our community."

Yuba City Mayor John Buckland said "Janssen is just of those bright lights in our community."

"Everything he does is a selfless act," the mayor said. "He's passionate about public safety."

Yuba City Councilman Tej Maan said Janssen has "always been involved in the community."

"It's great," Maan added, "that people in the community give and care."

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