Las beisbolitas by Claudia Rodriguez They played in fields Mujeres beisbolistas? smaller than the men’s, They did it for the fun, the winning, right before the men hit the lots. the friendships and the aches.
M e x ic a n a M e r ic a n Ba s e Ba l l in the P oMo n a Va l l e y Richard A. Santillán with Mark A. Ocegueda, Alfonso Ledesma, Sandra L. Uribe, and Alejo L. Vásquez Foreword by Vicki L. Ruiz.
Copyright © 2014 by Richard A. Santillán ISBN 978-1-4671-3228-2 Published by Arcadia Publishing Charleston, South Carolina Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Control Number: 2014934517 For all general information, please contact Arcadia Publishing: Telephone 843-853-2070 Fax 843-853-0044 E-mail [email protected] For customer service and orders: Toll-Free 1-888-313-2665 Visit us on the Internet at www.arcadiapublishing.com To my wife, Teresa, and all the ballplayers in our family, Anthony, John, Alec, Román, Rhiannon, George, Joe, Carlitos, Nico, Christina, and a special tribute to Steve Oviedo —Richard For Karina, Daniel, and Sarah—Dream big and don’t stop until you get there. —Mark Para mis padres, Emerita y Ignacio, and my husband Daniel—Thank you for your support.
C o N T E N T S Acknowledgments 6 Foreword 7 Introduction 8 1. Azusa, Claremont, La Verne, and Pomona 9 2. Chino, Cucamonga, Ontario, and Upland 27 3. Military Baseball 45 4. Women in Softball and Baseball 75 5. The Golden State 91 6. Coast to Coast 109 7. Field of Dreams 121 Bibliography 126 About the Organization 127.
A C k N o w L E d g m E N T S The foundation of this project to publicize the rich history of Mexican American baseball and softball in the Pomona Valley is due to the remarkable work of the Latino Baseball History Project at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). Others who supported this effort include the following individuals and staff at the CSUSB’s John M. Pfau Library: Dean Cesar Caballero and Sue Caballero, Jill Vassilakos-Long (head of archives and special collections), Iwona Contreras, Ericka Saucedo, Amina Romero, Carrie Lowe, Manny Veron, Brandy Montoya, Hayley Parke, John Baumann, and Stacy Magtedanz.
F o R E w o R d An ace pitcher for Jimmy John Lumber, a young Matt García had no inkling of the rich mound of history on which he stood. Years later, as a doctoral student, García began to uncover the legacies of family members and their neighbors in the making of the Greater Pomona Valley. His 2001 book World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 broke new ground by emphasizing the experiences of Mexican Americans not as faceless workers or members of isolated communities but as individuals with hopes and dreams, who in the course of their day interacted with European Americans and African Americans. Focusing primarily on the decades between 1920 and 1960, Matt García captured moments of tension between Mexican American men and braceros in Claremont’s Arbol Verde barrio to moments of collaboration between African American and Latino musicians who played at the popular integrated dance hall, the aptly named Rainbow Gardens. Conveying the texture of human emotion, he offers a sense of people in motion and of the communities in which they lived. The pride Professor García takes in his local roots resonates in the memories and photographs beautifully assembled in the pages that follow.
I N T Ro d U C T I o N The Greater Pomona Valley is located between the San Gabriel Valley and the Cucamonga Valley, straddling the border between Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. In 1893, the California Assembly voted to form a new county, San Antonio County, with Pomona as its seat. However, Los Angeles political and economic interests defeated the proposal. Today, the Greater Pomona Valley is divided between western San Bernardino County and eastern Los Angeles County and surrounding communities of interest. Since the early 1900s, Mexican American communities have sprung up mainly due to the push and pull of economic factors, especially in the cities of Azusa, La Verne, Claremont, Pomona, Chino, Cucamonga, Upland, and Ontario.
1 A z u s a , C l a r e m o n t , L a V e r n e , a n d P o m o n a The Mexican American “foothill communities” of Azusa, Claremont, La Verne, and Pomona played a vital role in what was once considered one of the richest agricultural areas in the United States. Carey McWilliams, the noted journalist and historian, wrote that this region was neither rural nor urban. Mexican Americans were systematically excluded and segregated by the various mainstream social institutions up until the later part of the 20th century.
The original families who settled Claremont worked at the citrus packinghouses, the Claremont Colleges, and, if they had talent, at the historic Padua Hills Theatre. Every Mexican Independence Day from the 1920s through the late 1930s, the elders organized a youth march from the East Barrio to Renwick Gymnasium at Pomona College, where they taught young people their Mexican history. A picture of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the priest who led the independence movement, hangs on the wall. (Courtesy of Alfonso Villanueva Jr.) Mexican Americans were not welcomed to many Catholic churches throughout the country. This was their sad experience at St. Joseph’s in Pomona and St. George in Ontario. Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel was built by the residents of both the East Barrio and Árbol Verde. It was built in 1938 after years of fundraising jamaicas. The first mass was held at the Enriguez home on Blanchard Place in Árbol Verde in 1912. Sacred Heart was razed in 1968 to widen Claremont Boulevard. (Courtesy of Alfonso Villanueva Jr.) 10 AZUSA, CLAREMONT, LA VERNE, AND POMONA.