The late great Dodgers center fielder Willie Davis grew up in Boyle Heights and went to Roosevelt High School and was playing for a local team managed by Manuel “Shorty” Pérez at the diamond at Evergreen Park when he was recruited by a scout shortly after graduating in 1958. Mays signed with the Dodgers and went on to have a famed career in Major League Baseball which included a record-breaking 31-game hitting streak in 1969 that remains unmatched by any Los Angeles player.

Davis’ story is one of dozens of anecdotes included in “Mexican American Baseball in East Los Angeles,” a new book from Arcadia Press by Richard A. Santillán, Richard Peña, Teresa M. Santillán, Al Padilla and Bob Lagunas that uses photographic and other archival material from the Latino Baseball HIstory Project archive at the CSU San Bernardino Library to illustrate how the game was played in Los Angeles’ Eastside.

“Mexican American Baseball in East Los Angeles highlights the unforgettable teams, players, and coaches who graced the hallowed fields of East Los Angeles between 1917 and 2016 and brought immense joy and honor to their neighborhoods,” reads the book description by the editorial. “More than a game, baseball and softball were political instruments designed to promote and empower civil, political, cultural, and gender rights, confronting head-on the reactionary forces of prejudice, intolerance, sexism, and xenophobia. A century later, baseball and softball are more popular than ever in East Los Angeles. Dedicated coaches still produce gifted players and future community leaders.”

The book will be presented by one of the authors –Dr. Richard Santillan– on Saturday, July 22 at 2 p.m. at the Stevenson Branch Library, 803 Spence Street. The book signing event is sponsored by the Boyle Heights Historical Society.

According to organizers, the presentation will include a number of speakers who have played key roles in Eastside baseball. Attendees are encouraged to bring old baseball photos to share with the group.

The book signing event is free and open to the public, but library seating is limited and an RSVP is recommended. Requests should be sent to Victoria Torres at arthurtl@aol.com.

Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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