By Jonathan Ng |Staff Writer|
A new book in accordance with the Latino Baseball History Project, “Mexican American Baseball in the Inland Empire,” had its premiere release on Wednesday, May 30 inside the John M. Pfau Library.
The book serves as a legacy for the Hispanic community within the Inland Empire by providing a rich history of Latino baseball and preserving this positive image for new generations to come.
“When I go and my mother goes, our family will still be in that book . . . it is going to affect our children and our children’s children,” said Manuel Salazar, a former baseball player mentioned in the book.
Former baseball players referenced in the book who attended the reception came together to discuss their experiences in baseball and how it affected their lives. “Athletics have been a way of life in my family . . . it fosters growth and leadership,” said Sal Valdivia.
Baseball taught the necessary values that many people from the Latino community used as a means to become successful. “Athletics was the only reason I went to school . . . because of sports, I finished college,” said Valdivia.
One of the many obstacles before the late 1960s was the discrimination against the Latino community and the lack of support they had from the overall community.
“They had to play in the parking lots and abandoned areas before the 1950s . . . discrimination was very apparent back then,” said Mrs. Encinas, wife of Tommi Encinas.
Although the Latino community has endured a number of discriminatory obstacles, many Hispanics have risen to the top in American baseball after the color barrier was broken by Jackie Robinson.
“One of the first few Latino baseball players to become professional, Camilo Carreon, upon graduation from Colton High School, signed with the Chicago White Sox organization in 1956, hitting a.311 batting average his first year, earning him rookie of the year honors,” according to Santillan, author of the book.
“The White Sox were one of the first teams to stock their rosters with Latino players, and Mexican Americans came out in numbers to watch their favorite heroes,” said Santillan.
In essence, this book represents one of the struggles that the Hispanic community has been through over the past 90 years in the United States. “This book makes me proud . . . it has a lot of information about my people,” said Tommie Encinas.
Pride and culture are of huge importance to Latinos residing in the United States because they desire to stay connected to their ethnic roots. How they go about that is through embracing their history by telling stories and passing them down to generation after generation.
“Community history builds identity . . . it provides a venue for the elders to express themselves and the youth to develop a positive future,” said Cesar Caballero, Dean of the Pfau Library.
The book is a relic of the Latino community that represents family pride and a sense of identity. It establishes direction for the young and broadens the understanding and scope of the different roles that baseball has played in promoting rights of Mexican Americans.
The collections featuring these different stories and pictures celebrate the timeless memories that represent the thriving Latino culture of the Inland Empire.