South C Street in Madera has always been a busy place. Today it is the home of any number of business establishments and residences, and in the distant past it was the center of Madera’s fledgling Italian community. At one time, it even had a professional softball diamond, and that’s where this story begins — back in 1937.
It all started when Madera baseball aficionados, Henry Preciado and his brother Ben, learned that a very famous American had organized a softball team from some of the most talented black athletes in the nation. He called his group the Brown Bombers, and his idea was to go on a good-will tour of the United States, taking on all comers from local teams.
Now, it just so happened that the group had a manager by the name of Marty Fielder who was putting the tour together, and he was good friends with the Preciado family, who seemed to have connections in just about every avenue of human endeavor.
When Henry Preciado learned of the Brown Bombers and their scheduled road trip, he contacted Fielder. Why couldn’t they include Madera on their itinerary along with San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton? On Wednesday, Sept. 29, 1937, Preciado got his answer...