The Lion's Den: A not-so-polarized community. Go Bulldogs!
by Jaime Abeytia
Posted on June 30, 2009
There is a reason baseball is America's game. Something about the game has the ability to distract us from our problems and bring people together. My dad used to relate a lot of life's lessons through America's past-time. My favorite was that the object of life was same as baseball -- to make it home safe.
I talk a lot of smack about the political realities of El Paso, which usually revolve around the fact that there is a lot of division in our community and within our political structure. This really irritates the human ostriches who want to stick their head in the sand and pretend we all hold hands and sing kumbaya.
But yet again, baseball brings people together. Yes, even in the political world.
Yesterday was a parade and celebration to honor the Socorro Bulldogs who just won the Texas State Championship in baseball. Turns out it was the place to be not only for baseball fans and the community, but also for our community leadership.
I've lost track of how many times I've written about political divisions in this town. Frankly I'd like it a whole lot better if I could do more analysis on issues rather than personality conflicts, personal beefs, and political factions. But yesterday was an inspiration.
Here's a quick list of the political figures who showed up to support the Bulldogs and show off their pride for the little team that could:
-- State Rep. Norma Chavez
-- State Rep. Chente Quintanilla
-- County Commissioner Willie Gandara
-- County Commissioner Veronica Escobar
-- City Rep. Steve Ortega
-- Socorro Mayor Trini Lopez
There were a couple of political insiders there with their bosses including Lily Ruiz, Chavez's right hand, and Dora Oaxaca, who used to work for Quintanilla and now works for Gandara. U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes also sent a staffer who read a proclamation and presented the team with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Sammy Carrejo was there. He was a key player in El Paso county sheriff campaign of George Rodriguez Stoltz, whose son plays for the team. Thanks to Carrejo, I had an all-access pass to interview the coach, players and parents, and even had the chance to carry the trophy around for a while.
Gandara and Oaxaca are both Socorro alums. The SISD school board members were also in attendance, which means the Gandaras were definitely in the house.
The cool thing about the whole event was that no one was there for the sake of being seen. They were there because they were proud of the team. Most of them walked around and weren't even noticed, except the Gandaras who are very well-known in Socorro.
Once again, baseball bought adversaries together, even if it was only for one night. It showed that it is possible to get our community leaders to pull or push in the same direction. Funny how kids have a way of teaching us things, isn't it?
Each of the elected officials talked about how the win brings out the pride in the community and all talked about the fact that the victory wasn't just a victory for Socorro, but for the whole county. Chavez told me that not only was the victory a good thing for the community, but that it also provides a platform for the 1949 Bowie Bears, the last team from the area to win a state championship in baseball, to finally get the recognition they deserve. Turns out the Bulldogs are going to present championship rings to the Bears in an upcoming ceremony.
A few members of that team were in attendance, and I asked them how they felt about the fact that 60 years after the historic victory, the team from Socorro was still enduring some of the same racial issues they dealt with so many years ago. The general consensus was that the Socorro team didn't experience the same level of bigotry, but it did sadden them that 60 years later it was something that still hasn't been eradicated.
Interesting observation: Commissioner Gandara showed pride in his beloved Bulldogs and wore a Bulldogs t-shirt to Commissioner's Court. The hater-aide was flowing in town that day because he took a lot of criticism for it. Maybe that's why he was in a dress shirt last night instead of the Socorro red.
The number of people in attendance took me by surprise. The crowd was easily more than 3,000 strong. Everyone was treated to food, drink, and ice cream. Fans had the chance to watch the games on a big screen set up in the gym. The players showed off their trophy, signed autographs, and generally enjoyed their day in the sun.
Who wouldn't be proud of a bunch of good kids from the barrio who are an inspiration to younger kids and even adults? Especially kids who are so humble and have such cool nicknames. I did a piece on political nicknames on my blog last week, but I like theirs better.
So I'm sending out a big ¡orale! to Happy Feet, Sand Daddy, Topin, Mad Dog, Shaggy, George Bush, Huicho, Cupcake, Papa Jesus, Huero, Dodger, Dirtbag, Tavi, Tighty-Whitey, Bear, Goose, Pee-Wee, Marcus Molina, and Mike McMahon. I don't know why the last ones don't have a nickname.
It was inspiring that the night ended in fireworks and the whole night happened with absolutely no political fireworks.
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