They blazed a trail and celebrated their American heritage by playing the sport dubbed the country's national pastime.
And at a tribute last week at Cal Poly Pomona, more than 20 Mexican American veterans who played baseball while in the military were honored for their service on and off both the sports and the battle field.
The University Library is featuring an exhibit until Tuesday called "From the Battlefields to the Baseball Fields," a photo display of the veterans, many of whom grew up or currently live in Southern California that tells each veteran's individual story, according to a post on the Cal Poly Pomona website.
Richard Santillan, a professor emeritus of ethnic and women's studies, has written three books, with a fourth to be released in December, about the contributions of Mexican American baseball players. He said in the post that many books on baseball history "overlook the contributions" of these ball players.
The military created the teams to entertain troops and boost morale, he said. While some of these ball players faced racial discrimination, playing the sport helped root them in their American culture, he added.
“There were Mexican Americans who played in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s who were very good,” he said. “They were pioneers. They were trailblazers.”To read more of the story, click here.