•mexican american baseball
Text written by Albert Kilchesty
Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Brand
The Virgin Mary, embodied in the figure of Mexico’s patron saint, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, has been one of the most common mascots of Mexican American teams throughout the country. Two of those teams are portrayed here, the Nuestra Senoras from Kansas (left) and Nebraska (right). The Catholic Church sponsored many of these teams, hoping that by introducing Mexican American youth to baseball it could keep them out of trouble by providing the kids with structure, discipline and healthy exercise. These teams competed against other ethnic nines from different parishes, often beating them decisively. The popularity of baseball during the 1940s and later may be linked directly to the political and civil rights efforts of the Mexican American community as it demanded equal sports participation in the public and educational sphere. The game was among the most important activities in the struggle for acceptance within mainstream America.
Aztecas del Norte Brand
Mexican American baseball wasn’t confined to East Los Angeles and other communities in the Southland. Baseball was played throughout the country wherever a sizable community of Chicanos and Chicanas existed. This vibrant painting features members of the Aztecas del Norte men and women championship clubs from Kansas. The Aztec figure in the center brandishes a baseball bat in his right hand while his left holds a ball emblazoned with the American eagle at war and peace. His headpiece features the national colors of Mexico and the United States, a reference to the teams’ Mexican American background.
Los Tomboys Brand
Mexican-American women were very active in both baseball and softball as fans as well as players. Throughout the greater Los Angeles metropolitan areas, girls formed very competitive teams and participated in numerous leagues. This painting depicts members of Los Tomboys, an all-girl nine, after winning the championship of Orange, CA in 1947. Whether they played on the diamond or at the beach (inset), these ladies wowed spectators. Their uniforms, showing plenty of leg, are similar to those worn by members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s and ’50s.
Men’s fast pitch softball leagues abound in every part of the country. The level of competition among top-flight softball teams is fierce, often more intense than in the major leagues. Mexican American softball is no different. Annual tournaments bring together many of the best teams in the country. One of those teams, the Corona Chicanos, is the subject of this painting. At the height of the Chicano movement in the 1960s, Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez formed the team as a way to lead youths away from gang involvement. The players selected the Mexican Revolutionary hero Pancho Villa (top right) as their mascot. The team won numerous championships in Southern California and hosted the Chicano Fast Pitch Softball Tournament in Corona, which attracted more than fifty teams from places as far away as Mexico. The team disbanded in the 1980s, but a new squad of Chicanos now compete in their stead.