Adams State Nielsen Library will host baseball exhibit

(09-08-2016)

Photo courtesy of Gabe and Jody Lopez; 1937 Grays Baseball Game

Photo courtesy of Gabe and Jody Lopez; 1937 Grays Baseball Game.

Adams State University will host the traveling multicultural exhibit of America's favorite pastime, Sugar Beet Fields to Field of Dreams 1920s-1960s, Mexican/Spanish Contributions to America's Favorite Pastime. The exhibit will include an opening reception at 5:30 p.m. and presentation, by Gabe and Jody Lopez, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, in the Nielsen Library. The exhibit will remain on campus until October 15.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History initiative, "Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues," identifies artifacts that reflect the social and cultural influence of the game on Latino communities. The initiative is designed to build on a growing body of original research, oral histories and collections by and with Smithsonian partners to document the impact Latino communities have had on American history and culture through the sport. The museum also is gathering stories from the public about the role baseball has played in their lives and communities.

The Sugar Beet Fields to Field of Dreams 1920s-1960s, Mexican/Spanish Contributions to America's Favorite Pastime exhibit highlights the Mexican/Spanish laborers of the 1920s through the 1960s. They worked in the sugar beet fields, on the railroads, and as general laborers. Everyone worked hard six days a week, but on Sunday, they stepped up to the plate and joined the rest of America with its "favorite pastime," baseball. The boys and men played ball while family and friends came out to cheer and socialize. Local teams were soon formed, and these teams traveled to neighboring towns and "colonias" to play. These teams became the Rocky Mountain League of the National Semi-Pro Baseball Congress.

Local newspapers noted that Sunday was the only day those in the "Sugar Beet Leagues" could play. The teams' reputation for consistently high caliber players and great ball games made for good wholesome entertainment for all.

Race was never an issue and no "color lines" had to be crossed. They were all superb baseball players who belonged to one large family. The integrated sugar beet league was ahead of its time. From these humble beginnings, by 1942 many of the area teams had joined the newly formed Rocky Mountain League.

The Sugar Beet Fields to Field of Dreams 1920s-1960s, Mexican/Spanish Contributions to America's Favorite Pastime exhibit, which will be on display in the Nielsen Library, includes over 370 baseball photocopies of teams and individuals who played baseball, from all over Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska; over 3000 Spanish Colony photocopies, and over 90 interviews, audio and video, from players and those that lived in colonies.

For more information call 970-576-2605 or marivelopez@hotmail.com.