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  News > Peter Sparacino
  Peter Sparacino – Eighty Years in the Sport


Peter and Rose

Talking with Pete Sparacino about the racing pigeon sport takes you way back. He’s been a fancier since 1921, when he was seven years old. And his perspective on seeing the sport change over the decades is fascinating. The native Californian with Martinez roots is a retired machinist and has been a member of the American Racing Pigeon Union since 1926.
Asked how he became interested in the sport, Sparacino says, "My father worked with a pigeon flyer and when I was a young boy, he gave us squabs to eat. I thought they were too pretty to kill, so we built a pen and I started from there."


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Stongest statewide association

With Frank Maderos, Sparacino was instrumental in getting the Martinez Pigeon Club started with five members in 1927. During World War II, the Martinez Club supplied birds to the U.S. Army for the Signal Corp’s 280th, homing pigeons that transported vital information and helped the Allies win the war.

Sparacino has been a hard worker and a willing promoter for the sport. He was instrumental in forming the California State Racing Pigeon Organization in 1945, which today boasts 1,381 members and is one of the strongest statewide associations in the sport.

During the November, 2000 CSRPO convention in San Jose, Sparacino reminisced about how the sport had changed since the early part of this century. "We used to train our pigeons on the railroad express. The baggage men would release the birds at the station we asked for. Sometimes they’d forget and take them farther! They charged us four cents a bird, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that some of us were working for ten cents an hour!" Sparacino says that in the early days, they also shipped races on the trains.

"Some of the guys we flew with were older guys from England, especially in Oakland. They helped us a lot and got good birds for us from England," Pete remembers. Over the years, he has flown mostly Janssens, Van Loons and Devriendts.

A look into the archives of the CSRPO describes in detail what is perhaps the highlight of Sparacino’s racing career—the year he won it all in the California State Young Bird Classic Race. In 1973, the CSRPO convention was in San Rafael, and the race release was on a rainy November 9th . According to an article by Neil McDermott in the March 11, 1974 issue of the Racing Pigeon Bulletin, "Following the annual meeting…all the members converged on the Marin County Humane Society Building and grounds for lunch and to await our California Classic race birds, as the mobile loft was situated on the grounds for security reasons. We waited in vain all day as the rains continued throughout the day."


1937 meeting

New World's Record

"The birds were originally scheduled to be released from Winnemucca, Nevada, but because of the inclement weather they were released from Middlegate, Nevada, a distance of 260 miles. There were no day birds, however on Saturday, the second and final day of the race, at approximately 1:50 pm, a blue check hen circled the loft, landed on the ground, then flew away. We thought perhaps it was a bird that was lost in training and had just returned. However, she returned and trapped in at 2:53 pm, being the only bird to return within the two-day race. She was AU73 MTZ 233, entered and bred by Pete Sparacino of Pleasant Hill, California. She is bred directly out of Janssen imports, and she took all the prize money, pools and Calcutta Auction, for a new world’s record of 50,000 points."

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A worker for the sport

The 1974 report continues: "Peter Sparacino is possibly one of the fanciers with the most seniority in this area. His spacious lofts that adjoin his home on Pleasant Hill are stocked with some of the best Janssen birds from the old sod of Belgium and Holland, also many good imported Delbars direct from the old master Maurice himself. Pete is a worker for the pigeon sport. Everything that comes his way through the sport, he’s earned the rights. Currently, he is the president of the California Center of the ARPU and there seems no activity unless he is taking some kind of part."

It’s a real treat, more than 25 years later, to see Peter Sparacino and his wife, Rose, still participating in the CSRPO conventions and staying active in the sport.


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