Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Viva Los Chorizeros
My boyhood friend from East Los Angeles and fellow baseball lover, Dylan "Red Ryder" Sepulveda, sent me this amazing LA Times article about the Chorizeros, a team from our old neighbourhood that dominated LA before the Dodgers came to town. Even though this team was gone before Dylan and I were around, perhaps our dads knew about it. It reminds me that there is so much that I miss about the old East LA. (And not just the Tecate breakfasts.)
"In the years after World War II, the Chorizeros ruled over a loose affiliation of Latino amateur and semi-professional teams that played every weekend throughout Southern California and across the border into Mexico."
"The Chorizeros — the "chorizo makers" — had uniforms with the team name stitched in cursive across their chests, smart-looking ball caps and jackets. Lopez brought packages of chorizo to give away in the bleachers, and afterward invited everyone to a nearby restaurant, picking up the tab for tacos and cerveza."
"Oh, we'd run up a big bill," says Rich Pena, one of nine brothers who for many years formed the core of the Carmelita roster. "It was nothing but first class with him."
"The man who ran the club — he owned a chorizo factory down the road — made sure the lineup was always well-stocked, his guys dressed in crisp uniforms. The Chorizeros won strings of games, claiming one city championship after another, but this wasn't about just hits and runs."
"Fifty years later, as Los Angeles roils with demonstrations over proposed immigration changes, the legacy of the Chorizeros is entwined with the story of the Latino community. Frank Lopez, the owner's son, could see it in all of those faces at the games."There was a lot of prejudice in those days," Lopez says. "This was a way to do something. Something for us."