Penny Pitch: New tradition in a gold-rush town

NOW IN ITS FIFTH YEAR, THE KNCO/KANE’S Penny Pitch is becoming a Grass Valley tradition—like the town’s annual Pasty Toss, honoring its Cornish heritage. This year’s Penny Pitch is on Saturday, June 23.

“The ‘pitch’ is an entertaining afternoon for individuals, groups and businesses and for friends and family of all ages,” says Joe Hevia, co-founder and executive director of the event and a veteran of KNCO-830AM.

The old-fashioned event is patterned after San Francisco’s 34-year-old penny pitch fundraiser, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for St. Anthony’s to help the city’s poor and homeless citizens.

The San Francisco Penny Pitch, which began at the Washington Square Bar & Grill, now is held at MoMo’s restaurant near the Giant’s ballpark.

Grass Valley’s version is on the patio and sidewalk in front of Kane’s Restaurant in downtown Grass Valley. This year, for the first time, proceeds from the Penny Pitch will go to the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Coalition in Grass Valley.

Contestants pitch pennies against a wall, and the closest to the wall wins. A “leaner,” equivalent to a hole-in-one in golf, occurs when a pitched penny winds up leaning against the wall—requiring some finesse.

Kane’s will offer draft beer, barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and sides, along with live music and a raffle.

Visitors and locals attend the fun event, including restauranteurs John Kane and Frank Cooney of Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro, just up the street. John and Frank are friends and longtime San Franciscans.

Last year, some 175 players pitched pennies, with names such as “The One Cent Wonders,” “Kane Nation” and “The Red Hot Chili Peppers.” The event raised more than $5,500 for charity.

“Nevada County’s reputation for the generosity of its citizens is well documented,” says Tom O’Toole, another former San Franciscan who is a regular, along with his wife, Judy. “Grab some pennies and let the pitching begin.”

As the event nears, for more information, go to

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