Little League baseball has a rich history in the Santa Maria Valley, and Eddie Navarro has been a keeper of that history.
“We played baseball here in the valley for years, but in 1950, Santa Maria got its official Little League charter,” Navarro told the Times.
When Navarro spoke in June of 2017, the history of Little League baseball in the Santa Maria Valley was to be in the spotlight that month at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society’s Historical Museum.
Navarro is the Santa Maria Valley History Club’s co-founder. The Santa Maria Valley Historical Society’s Historical Museum is in the Chamber of Commerce complex at 616 South Broadway.
Navarro, Ernie Corral and Al Ramos started the Santa Maria Valley Sports History Club with the specific goal of keeping Valley history alive.
Ernie Corral “made the very first Santa Maria All-Star team,” Navarro said in 2017. “Legendary local Hancock College and local high school football coach Barney Eames was on the original Orcutt Casey’s Tigers team.”
Navarro was a presenter at a ceremony last March celebrating what was to be the kickoff for the 70th anniversary of Little League baseball in the Santa Maria Valley. Since then, however, multiple Valley Little Leagues have announced the cancellation of their respective seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, Navarro is an authority when it comes to the history of Little League baseball in the area.
When Santa Maria got its official Little League charter, “The League had six teams then, five from Santa Maria plus the Orcutt Tigers,” Navarro said earlier this year.
Some members from the original six showed up at the would-be 70th anniversary kickoff ceremony in March.
The Historical Society’s museum has plentiful items from the area’s early Little League on display.
“Sponsorship was very important to those early teams,” Museum Executive Director Cindy Ransick said.
“The Santa Maria Elks were one of the first sponsors along with Rancho Bowl, J.C. Penney, Bonita Packing, McDonald’s, Simas Sporting Goods, Tomooka Farms and the Santa Maria Times.”
Navarro said, “I played for Westside in 1962 and 1963. In the beginning it was just two leagues - Eastside and Westside. Then in 1969, a third league was added and the city had Southside, Westside and Northside.“
Those three comprise the Santa Maria city Little Leagues today. Orcutt has Orcutt National and Orcutt American.
A special display that June of 2017 honored Michelle Perez Winters. In 1976, Winters was the first girl to play in the Santa Maria Little League.
Winters later attended Cal Poly before starting a long career as a local teacher.
Navarro is also active in the organizing the Elks Lodge's annual Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot where local youngsters can win prizes and advance to regional competitions in shooting free throws or kicking soccer balls.
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