The Los Angeles Dodgers will be fighting to stave off elimination tonight when they face the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the World Series. Millions will tune in, and naturally Latino fans will be among them.
But the relationship between the team and its Hispanic fans has not always been so festive. In fact, the history of Dodger Stadium itself is a painful memory that is still felt in the Mexican American community.
The LA Dodgers have made inroads in attracting Hispanics fans. The team was the first in Major League Baseball to have a Spanish radio broadcast and are in negotiations to play regular season games in Mexico City next year.
But this love-love relationship is the product of decades-long tension between Latinos and the team.
Roberto José Andrade Franco at Deadspin does a deep dive on this complicated issue. In the piece he writes about how the construction in Chavez Ravine of Dodger Stadium—which opened in 1962—violently displaced one of the country’s oldest Mexican communities, with roots as far back as the mid-1800s.
This history made many Mexican Americans hesitant to support the team for generations. It wasn’t until Mexico-born pitching phenom Fernando Valenzuela joined the Dodgers that Latinos had a player they could root for.
But even at the height of stardom Valenzuela suffered the indignities of racism and anti-Latino prejudice. No matter how good he was, the press focused on stereotypes and made fun of his imperfect English.
The entire story shows how far we have come. Players from Latin America and of Latino descent are more visible than ever. But it’s important to look back at this history and what it can tell us about today’s struggles.
The whole article’s worth a read and you can do so here.