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The Latino Baseball History Project Presents
“Legends of Mexican American Baseball: Jim ‘Chayo’ Rodriguez”

 Exhibition: November 1-December 22, 2010

 Reception: Wednesday, November 17, 5:30 pm

Location: Special Collections (4th Floor), John M. Pfau Library, California State University, San Bernardino


          The Latino Baseball History Project at the John M. Pfau Library, California State University, San Bernardino, in collaboration with the Baseball Reliquary, launches a new exhibition series in November 2010, “Legends of Mexican American Baseball,” which will highlight the achievements, both on and off the field, of notable Mexican American ballplayers in Southern California, and will feature photographs and artifacts from the Project’s archival collection.
The inaugural exhibition in the series will be devoted to Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez, a lifelong resident of Corona, California, whose playing and coaching career in the Inland Empire has spanned a remarkable seven decades. The exhibition will open in the Special Collections room at the John M. Pfau Library on November 1, 2010 and will be available for viewing through December 22, 2010.
A reception will be held on Wednesday, November 17, at 5:30 pm at the Pfau Library. Guest speakers will include Chayo and wife Emily Rodriguez, longtime Inland Empire journalist Jerry Soifer, and Chuey Mendoza, a former teammate of Chayo in both baseball and softball. The reception is free; please RSVP by November 15 at (909) 537-5102.
Now 80 years of age (he turns 81 on November 28), Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez began playing for the legendary Corona Athletics at the age of thirteen, a remarkable feat considering that the roster for the Athletics, one of the first and most successful of the all-Mexican American independent teams, consisted of men in their twenties and thirties. Rodriguez was a fixture in the outfield and third base for a variety of amateur and semi-professional baseball teams through 1970, including the Corona Merchants, Cucamonga Merchants, and Colton Mercuries. He also started playing fastpitch softball in his teens, and the list of teams he played for is a snapshot of Inland Empire history and lore: Barto’s Washer, Hickory Barbeque, Transit Mix Concrete, Wink’s Café, American G.I. Forum, Gunderson T.V., Jalisco Café, Mona’s Café, and Lindy’s Red Devils.
During the heyday of the Chicano movement, Rodriguez formed the Chicanos, a fastpitch softball team based in Corona whose purpose was to redirect the energies of troubled Mexican American youth from gang activities to athletic pursuits. Rodriguez managed the Chicanos from 1973 to 1990, a period in which the team won several tournaments throughout Southern California and lived up to the fighting spirit of their logo, a drawing of the Mexican Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, which was emblazoned on their team jersey.
In 1983, Rodriguez retired from the workforce after 31 years in civil service; however, he has steadfastly refused to hang up his spikes. In recent years, Rodriguez has kept active in the game, continuing to inspire and mentor young athletes, as the assistant girl’s softball coach at Santiago High School in Corona. This year marks Rodriguez’s seventh year of coaching at Santiago, highlighted in 2006 by the school’s first CIF Division I championship in girl’s softball.
Among the many honors Rodriguez has received in his lengthy career include serving as the Grand Marshal of the 1980 Cinco de Mayo Parade in Corona, and being inducted in 1989 into the Hispanic Hall of Fame by the Inland Empire Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “It makes me happy and glad that people think about me as contributing something to the community in the area of sports,” Rodriguez has said.
“Legends of Mexican American Baseball: Jim ‘Chayo’ Rodriguez” is curated by Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, a co-sponsor of the Latino Baseball History Project. The exhibition features a variety of photographs and memorabilia from the collections of Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez, the Corona Heritage Park Museum, and the Latino Baseball History Project.
Established at the Pfau Library in 2009, the Latino Baseball History Project is a repository of materials related to Latino baseball history in Southern California, including the amateur, semi-professional, and professional games. Included in the repository’s collection are artifacts, photographs, artworks, documents, oral histories, and other materials which provide an important resource for the study and interpretation of Latino baseball, and for the examination of Latino baseball as a vehicle to forge community, identity, and culture.