The Institute for Baseball Studies will honor the Carmelita Chorizeros, one of the greatest semi-professional teams in East Los Angeles baseball history, with the dedication of a painting and billboard on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., in Room 310 on the third floor of the Mendenhall Building, 13406 E. Philadelphia St., on the campus of Whittier College, Whittier, California. The location serves as the reading room of the Institute for Baseball Studies, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States.
The dedication will include three newly-installed artworks and artifacts spotlighting the history of the Carmelita Provision Company of East Los Angeles and its long-running relationship to barrio baseball. Since the 1930s, the company has provided chorizo (spicy pork sausage) to local markets.
A painting of Carmelita Chorizeros manager Manuel “Shorty” Perez, completed in 1972 by artist Eleanor Valenzuela, has been donated to the Institute by Shorty’s son and daughter-in-law, Gil and Lucille Perez of Whittier, California. The painting, which has been in the Perez family for over four decades, depicts the iconic manager wearing his Carmelita jersey.
Shorty Perez was born on February 18, 1904 in Hachita, New Mexico. In the early 1940s, Shorty and his family lived in Chavez Ravine, eventually settling in East Los Angeles after World War II. Baseball was his true passion, and in the early 1940s through 1946 he played shortstop for, and also managed, the Elysian Athletic Club and National Auto Glass semi-pro teams. In 1947, Shorty began a 35-year association with the Carmelita Provision Company, as manager of the Chorizeros. With the assistance and financial support of Carmelita owner Mario Lopez, Sr., Shorty established the Chorizeros as one of the most popular and successful semi-professional teams in Southern California baseball history, winning numerous league and city championships. Shorty managed the team until his death on November 12, 1981 at the age of 77. His passion for, and commitment to, barrio baseball knew no limits. Shorty mentored many fine young men who went on to become prominent community leaders. Befitting a man who dedicated his life to baseball in the barrios, he was buried wearing his Carmelita uniform, and in his hand was a baseball signed by his former players. Shorty had five children: two daughters, Vera and Maria; and three sons, Eddie, Ernie, and Gil. In the years he managed the Chorizeros, he supported his family as an auto painter and gas station owner/operator.
Also to be dedicated is a recreation of the iconic Carmelita Provision Company billboard, which was completed earlier this year by acclaimed artist and muralist Enrique Vidal for the exhibition “Peloteros in Paradise: A Los Angeles Béisbol Story” at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Downtown Los Angeles. The original billboard, which was on top of the former Carmelita production facility on Floral Avenue, was one of the most iconic signs in all of Los Angeles, and could be seen by anyone driving on the 710 Freeway near Cesar Chavez Avenue. The sign featured the famous baseball-cap-wearing, bat-wielding pig logo that was long associated with the company and its baseball team, the Chorizeros (or “Sausage Makers”). After the closure of the plant in recent years, the sign was ravaged by graffiti and eventually painted over. Organizers of the LA Plaza exhibition, with support from current Carmelita owners including Pete Gonzalez, had the vision to commission Vidal to recreate the billboard based on original color photos of the sign.
The final piece to be dedicated is a reproduction wool flannel 1953 Chorizeros jersey, manufactured by Ebbets Field Flannels of Seattle, Washington, and donated by Pete Gonzalez of Carmelita Chorizo.
The dedication ceremony will feature numerous speakers, including Gil and Lucille Perez (representing the family of Manuel “Shorty” Perez) and Pete Gonzalez (representing Carmelita Chorizo). Also scheduled to speak briefly are Richard Santillan, author and advisor to the Latino Baseball History Project; Erin M. Curtis, senior curator for LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes; and Joseph L. Price, professor at Whittier College and co-director of the Institute for Baseball Studies. Light refreshments will be served.
Free parking is available on the street or in the parking lot on the east side of the Mendenhall Building. The entrance to this lot is on Philadelphia Street, just east of Painter Avenue. Note that there are no restrictions to parking on weekends in this lot, so you may park in any available space. After parking, enter the Mendenhall Building and proceed to the third floor.
For further information, contact Institute for Baseball Studies co-directors Joseph L. Price by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (562) 907-4803; or Terry Cannon by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (626) 791-7647.