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BOOK REVIEW:

Mexican American baseball on the Westside of Los Angeles

Call Number: 
796.231 S235-5

This book is part of a series of books that document Mexican American baseball. They are photographic essays which include meticulously researched information.  The focus is baseball, but the books are more than a history of the sport as organized and played by Mexican Americans. The text and photographs present a cultural history of prejudice and exclusion of Mexican American players from all-white leagues. The books also document the participation of women in all-women leagues.  The numerous vintage photographs and history provide information long neglected, and some of it previously unknown, about the contributions made by Mexican baseball players and their families, community organizations and leaders to our national sport.

As a region, the Westside of Los Angels includes the affluent areas of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Malibu, Westwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades; and neighborhoods west of La Cienega Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean, south of the Santa Monica Mountains, and north of LAX. During the 1920s there was an increase in the immigration of Mexicans because of an economic downturn in Mexico. Discriminatory housing practices limited families and single men to distinct and separate areas: " ... designated portions of Santa Monica, Venice, Mar Vista, Palms, Culver City, and the West Los Angeles area strictly bordered by Centinela Avenue, Pico Boulevard, and Sawtelle Boulevard. In Santa Monica, the demarcation lines were Twelfth Street to the west, Centinela Avenue to the east, Pico Boulevard to the south, and Santa Monica Boulevard to the north." Discriminatory practices in employment and education also existed. However because Mexicans lived in the same neighborhoods, they formed baseball and softball leagues that were a match and mimicked the very leagues from which they were excluded.

"Latino baseball flourished in Southern California from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It was a popular sport, but it was also something more. Latino baseball leagues helped create a cohesive and vibrant Latino community and they were a source of community pride. The games became a place for meetings across the region and were integral to discussion and eventually political organization within the communities."

Dr. Richard Santillan, one of the founding members of the Latino Baseball History Project will discuss this recent book on Saturday, October 19 at Central Library. For more information about this special program, please click here.

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