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The Baseball Reliquary’s Collaborative Project on Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles Receives National Humanities Award

             The Baseball Reliquary’s collaborative project with the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at California State University, Los Angeles on Mexican-American baseball has earned a distinguished national award for the California Council for the Humanities (CCH). The CCH provided a grant for Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues as part of its California Story Fund, a grant program specifically designed to bring grassroots community stories to wider audiences and make them part of the larger California story. The CCH was awarded the 2007 Schwartz Prize on November 3, 2007 at the National Humanities Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. The prize, given annually by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, is one of two awards for excellence in public programming presented each year in the United States and its territories.
            In October 2005, the Baseball Reliquary received a $5,000 grant from the CCH to begin its multi-faceted and comprehensive examination of Mexican-American baseball in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at California State University, Los Angeles. The project included a major exhibition at the library and oral history documentation conducted by Cal State LA students. The exhibition has subsequently toured throughout Southern California over the last two years. In nominating the project for the Schwartz Prize, the CCH noted that “Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues had an extraordinary impact on a large, underserved California community, forged new and enduring ties between community members and participating academic institutions, used the humanities to explore a previously overlooked piece of the American story, attracted unprecedented audience members, and developed a life of its own, so that the project continues to prosper well after Council funding has ended.”
            “I am excited that our project has been selected for this prestigious award,” said the Baseball Reliquary’s Executive Director, Terry Cannon, who collaborated with Cal State LA personnel and a group of advisors in developing the project and who was on hand at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California on December 13, 2007 when the Reliquary was formally presented the Schwartz Prize by James Quay, Executive Director of the CCH. “Hopefully the prize will allow us to continue to build and expand the project, particularly in terms of establishing a Mexican-American baseball archive at Cal State LA’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Library as a major resource for students, scholars, and the community at large.” Others associated with the project who were in attendance and spoke at the December 13 award presentation included Cesar Caballero, current University Librarian at California State University, San Bernardino (and Acting University Librarian at Cal State LA during the initial phase of the project in 2005 and 2006); Francisco Balderrama, Professor of Chicano Studies and History at Cal State LA, who taught the classes which conducted the oral histories; Al Padilla, former East Los Angeles ballplayer and coach, who was interviewed as part of the project; and Alice Kawakami, current University Librarian at Cal State LA.
            A statement issued by the panel of Schwartz Prize judges commended the Baseball Reliquary project as one “whose strong humanities focus both told the story of an overlooked chapter of Mexican-American history and forged new and lasting connections between underserved audiences and academic institutions. The judges highlighted the way in which this project used familiar humanities activities, such as the collecting of oral histories, exhibitions, and lectures in order to bring to life in an original and compelling manner the nearly forgotten story of the once-flourishing culture of Mexican-American amateur and semi-professional baseball teams. The collaborative approach of this project, one which created ties between local colleges and community members, including many who had never before been on campus, resulted in an experience of exceptional quality and lasting significance.”
            Since the inaugural exhibition for Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues at Cal State LA in the spring of 2006, it has traveled to the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College Library & Learning Resource Center, the Institute for Socio-Economic Justice & Progressive Community Development (Brawley, California), and the Pomona Public Library.
            The Schwartz Prize is made possible by former Federation of State Humanities Councils board member Martin Schwartz and his wife, Helen, who established an endowment fund in the 1980s to recognize outstanding public humanities programs.
            For additional information on Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues, contact Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, at P.O. Box 1850, Monrovia, CA 91017; by phone at (626) 791-7647; or by e-mail at

 2007 Schwartz Prize Nominating Statement
by California Council for the Humanities

Speakers at the 2007 Schwartz Prize luncheon at the Huntington Library, hosted by the Board of Directors of the California Council for the Humanities, included (from left to right) Cesar Caballero, Terry Cannon, and Al Padilla. (Photo courtesy of Don Milici)

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