While getting gasoline recently at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Gateway Drive at the Arco AM-PM gas station, it brought me lots of good memories.
On May 31, 1947, when we came from Laredo, Texas, and were living on Sunrise and Vineyard, I walked to Seman Grocery Store at the corner of Sunrise and A streets. And while there, I met this ice man that was delivering ice to the store, Frank Molina. I told him that I had just moved here from Texas and was looking for a baseball team to play with, and right away he told me there was a team getting started next year, 1948, and was going to be sponsored by the Redwood Hut Restaurant.
I told Frank, “good,” because my father and I were just going to start working with Mr. Juan Contreras picking potatoes, peaches, grapes and cotton.
In September 1947 my mother, my brother Oscar, and sisters Mary, Yolanda and Irma, came here after they got out of school.
So in 1948 I went to the Redwood Hut Restaurant (where the Arco AM-PM) gas station is now on Yosemite and Gateway. I went to the restaurant early and I met the team manager, Nobel Tiller, who worked there at the restaurant as the head cook and manager.
Some of the players that I met that played with the team were Frank Molina, Pete Roque, Ricky Bonjorno, Bob Dearing, Ray Tyler, Doug McCarty, Ray McCarty, Fritz Bower Sr., Clyde Bowen, Ernie Bowen, and Joe Juariqui. We used to go play baseball on Sundays in Mendota, Firebaugh, Merced, Le Grand, Planada and here in Madera. I played with this Redwood Hut Restaurant team in 1948 and 1949.
I also remember Mrs. Amy “Gene” Harrington, the owner of the restaurant who passed away May 18, 2012. When we used to meet there at the restaurant to go play ball, I’d see her there a couple of times.
In 1950 my next door neighbor. Mr. Joe L. Flores, gave me a job at the high school, and while working there at the school I could see lots of boys couldn’t play baseball on account of their grades. So that year, 1950, I started a town team, the Madera Merchants baseball team, for all those boys that couldn’t play high school baseball. They would play with us and bring up their grades and play the following semester.
I had the team from 1950 to 2001, (thanks to all the Madera Merchants in sponsoring my team).
I still believe that doing all this work for all those boys, somebody noticed; people like Joe L. Flores, Mel Parker, John N. Peters, Carles Beckett, Gary Adams have to have noticed, in naming the baseball field at the Madera South High School campus “Eddie Chapa Field” in 2007.