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Mexican Americans and Sports

A Reader on Athletics and Barrio Life

Edited by Jorge Iber and Samuel O. Regalado

Publication Year: 2007

For at least a century, across the United States, Mexican American athletes have actively participated in community-based, interscholastic, and professional sports. The people of the ranchos and the barrios have used sport for recreation, leisure, and community bonding. Until now, though, relatively few historians have focused on the sports participation of Latinos, including the numerically preponderant Mexican Americans. This volume gathers an important collection of such studies, arranged in rough chronological order, spanning the period from the late 1920s through the present. They survey and analyze sporting experiences and organizations, as well as their impact on communal and individual lives. Contributions spotlight diverse fields of athletic endeavor: baseball, football, soccer, boxing, track, and softball. Mexican Americans and Sports contributes to the emerging understanding of the value of sport to minority populations in communities throughout the United States. Those interested in sports history will benefit from the book’s focus on under-studied Mexican American participation, and those interested in Mexican American history will welcome the insight into this aspect of the group’s social history.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

As with all book projects, many people have helped to bring this undertaking to its conclusion. I would like to thank Dr. Larry Gerlach of the University of Utah for introducing me to the field of sports history. I thank the many people involved with the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) who, over the years, served as...

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Introduction: Athletics and Chicano/a Life, 1930–2005

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pp. 1-18

On September 4, 2002, an exposé appearing on the ESPN website probably caught many auto-racing fans throughout the country by surprise. The title of Jerry Bonkowski's article "NASCAR Aims to Attract Hispanics" is simple, yet it describes the new demographic, social, economic, and sporting realities of life in the United States in the twenty-first century.1 The article details...

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The Foot Runner Conquer Mexico and Texas: Endurance Racing, Indigenismo, and Nationalism

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pp. 19-49

In the deep darkness of early morning—3:05 a.m.—on November 7, 1926, three runners left the central Mexican town of Pachuca in the state of Hidalgo.1 They were bound for Mexico City, one hundred kilometers away. A large crowd of state and local officials, including the governor of Hidalgo and the mayor of Pachuca, saw the runners off. The three ran...

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Peloteros in Paradise: Mexican American Baseball and Oppositional Politics in Southern California, 1930-1950

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pp. 50-72

“I’ve been in baseball since I was thirteen years old. I’ve been playing all sports and the only problem that kept me from making the majors was my color,” bitterly complained Jess Guerrero. Before 1947, the deeply entrenched color line in U.S. baseball kept African Americans, black Latinos, and dark-skinned Mexican Americans like Guerrero from playing in the major leagues. Despite racial segregation in baseball, Mexican...

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Los Heroes Del Domingo: Soccer, Borders, and Social Spaces in Great Lakes Mexican Communities, 1940-1970

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pp. 73-88

This chapter analyzes the impact of organized sports on Mexican and Latino communities in Detroit and Chicago between 1940 and 1970.1 I challenge the predominant assumptions that organized sports (primarily soccer) represent social forms that keep Mexican traditions alive in the United States, help Mexican immigrants escape from poverty, and reproduce traditional...

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Wearing The Red, White, and Blue Trunks of Aztlan: Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales and the Convergence of American and Chicano Nationalism

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pp. 89-120

When Rodolfo (“Corky”) Gonzales, chair of the Crusade for Justice, filed a $30 million libel suit against the Rocky Mountain News in February 1974, he was not merely suing a local newspaper for its inaccurate representation of those involved in his organization.1 Gonzales was also using a revered U.S. institution—the courts—to challenge the terms and conditions upon which the local mainstream press, another venerated...

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On-Field Foes and Racial Misconception: The 1961 Donna Redskins and Their Drive to the Texas State Football Championship

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pp. 121-144

Although some in academia and journalism may disagree with them, a preponderance of Texans would likely wholeheartedly endorse the words of former Houston Oilers coach “Burn” Phillips, who said, “There is something about high school football in Texas that captures the essence of what sport is all about. It's about pride; it's about entire communities...

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Read All About It! The Spanish-language Press, the Dodgers, and the Giants, 1958-1982

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pp. 145-159

“Fernando was born to win,” crowed Rodolfo García, sports columnist for the Los Angeles Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión.1 In 1981 few, if any, major league rookies had received the type of national attention given to Mexican lefty pitcher Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Indeed, no...

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Raza Boxing: Community, Identity, and Hybridity in the 1960s and 1970s in Southern California

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pp. 160-187

On April 30, 1964, Al Díaz attended his first prizefight in his official capacity as the newly appointed California boxing commissioner. Along with ninety-four hundred other fans packed into the Olympic Auditorium in the city of Los Angeles, Díaz witnessed a fast-paced, bloody, twelve-round fight between Mexican...

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Beating the Odds: Mexican American Distance Runners in Texas, 1950-1995

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pp. 188-212

Reubén Reina entered the final lap of the men’s 5,000-meter semifinal in the 1992 Olympic Games in fourth place. The capacity crowd of more than eighty thousand people cheered as Ethiopia’s Worku Bikila led Kenya’s Paul Bitok and Morocco’s M. Brahim Boutayeb by a few meters at the bell lap. Running slightly behind the top three,...

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Advance at Your Own Risk: Latinas, Families, and Collegiate Softball

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pp. 213-232

This chapter illustrates the relationship among families, sports, and education with regard to a select group of Latinas in collegiate softball. Specifically, the analytic focus is on legacies of exclusion, gendered relations within families, and a remaking of the culture. Given that many U.S. Latino families experience a legacy of exclusion from...

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Invisible Identity: Mexican American Sport and Chicano Historiography

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pp. 233-245

Chicano historiography has made great strides in recent years. Now considered a vital part of the U.S. historical collage, “the least known, the least sponsored, and the least vocal large minority group in the nation” labels, as educator George I. Sánchez described the contingent in 1950, no longer apply to Mexican Americans.1 By 2000 the...

List of Contributors

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pp. 247-249


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pp. 251-262

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445016
E-ISBN-10: 1603445013
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445523
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445525

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: Index.
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 644982172
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mexican Americans and Sports

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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- Sports.
  • Sports -- United States -- History.
  • Mexican Americans -- Recreation.
  • Mexican American Athletes.
  • Mexican American Athletes -- Social conditions.
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