Keeping the tradition alive: Mexican American fast-pitch league celebrates 73 years

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This year Newton’s Mexican American men’s fast-pitch softball tournament is celebrating 73 years. What started off as a hobby for the men is now a tradition.

“It’s a sense of pride,” said Manuel Jaso, member of the Mexican American League.

And knowing where you come from,” said Christopher Gómez, member of the Mexican American League.   

It started back in 1930 in Newton when Mexican American men worked the railroads.

“As soon as they would get done with work, they were looking for things to do and occupy time, so they started playing ball,” Gómez said.    
 
The only issue back then was the men were not allowed to play with other ethnicities

“There was a big segregation period during that time,” said Gómez.    

African Americans would play with African Americans, whites with whites and the Mexican Americans didn’t have a team.

“My father helped start this tournament so to me it’s a no-brainer, keep it going,” Jaso said.

The Mexican American league was created in the late ’30s. It first started off with baseball, then leading to softball.

“I play and my dad played, and my brothers have played,” said Jaso.

Generations later the tradition continues in Newton, Kansas. 

“This tournament was started by my grandfather, who was part of the Santa Fe railroad,” Gómez said.  

The players meet every 4th of July weekend for a playful competition and look back at what history has taught them.

“It’s really neat to see really overcoming a lot of barriers,” Gómez said.   

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