Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who Knew #15 The First Latinos in Professional Sports

Sports in the United States  have served as ambassadors to politics and movements in society. We all know that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in an all white professional baseball team. However, not a lot of people know when Latinos broke the barrier, so in this post I want to take the time to write about the first Latinos in Professional sports.


Latin American Baseball players dominate the sport of Baseball, players like Yasiel Puig (Cuba), David Ortiz (Dominican Republic), Victor Martinez (Venezuela) are among the greatest in the game today.

 The first Latin American player in the modern era of MLB was Luis Castro also known as Lou Castro who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902

Although, Lou Castro was no a superstar, he became popular as he became the first Latin American player to play professional baseball.  Lou Castro brought in many controversies about his nationality. There are many theories about his come ups but one theory was that he could have been the son of General Cipriano Castro, president of Venezuela, who sent his son to attend college in New York, and became a baseball player. According to theories in order to hide his activities from his father, he changed his nationality on the school records and told everyone he was from Colombia.

 First MLB player from Mexico: Mel Alameda (1933)
 First MLB player from Dominican Republic: Ozzie Virgil (1956)

Alfred "Butch" Lee with the Los Angeles Lakers 

 The first Latino to play in the NBA was Alfred "Butch" Lee, who signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 1978 after starring at Marquette University. Butch Lee was born in Puerto Rico and raise in New York. Not only did he become the first Latino to play professional basketball, but he was also the #1 draft pick of the 1978 season.  Lee only played for 2 years but won a championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Horacio Llamas was the first Mexican born player to ever play in the NBA in 1996, he only played for two years.

The NBA currently lacks Latino basketball players, According to the 2013 NBA rosters, there are only 18 foreign-born Latino players and six U.S.-born players of Latino heritage.


Ignacio Saturnino (Lou) Molinet  was the first professional football player of Hispanic descent to play in the National Football League in 1927. Molinet was from Cuba and only played for one season with the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

Lou Molinet's contract is in the NFL Hall of Fame as he became the first Latino Player to ever play in the NFL    

 Mexican in the NFL: Sergio Albert in 1974 who was a Kicker and only played one season.

As you can the first Latinos did not have successful careers, they weren't any Jackie Robinson comparisons but these athletes led the pathways to other Latino players. Baseball has the most players with Latino heritage but there also more baseball players than Basketball players.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hiking Adventure #4 Bronson Cave Trail

Address: Canyon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Elevation Change: 55 feet

Distance: 0.66 miles 

In the vicinity of Griffith Park, Bronson Cave trail is a very easy short trail that leads to a nice scene and man made caves. Bronson Cave is one of Hollywood’s favorite filming locations since the 1920's.

 History of the Cave

In 1903 the Union Rock Company used this canyon (known back then as Brush Canyon) for excavation of crushed rock to construct the City of Los Angeles which was rapidly expanding into a modern city.

After vacating the area, all that was left behind were man made caves which through out the years  became known as the Bronson Cave after a nearby street.

The Cave in Films

The cave became a popular filming location since the 1920's, a few silent films were shot here. The cave became known to many as the Batcave as the cave was used for the popular Batman television series of the 60's. Other films that have been shot here , include the Wild Wild West which features Will Smith, The Scorpion King with The Rock, and horror film Cabin Fever (2002)

Screenshot of the Batmobile leaving the Bronson Cave. Batman television series of the 1960's

Really nice view of the Hollywood sign from outside of the Bronson Cave
One side of the Bronson Cave, this is the side in which the Batmoblie use to come out in the Batman series

The entrance of the cave from far away

Inside the Cave (Picture taken 1.1.2015)
To get to the trailhead:  be on  Canyon Drive  and drive 1.4 miles to the end of the road at top of Bronson Canyon Park. There is a small parking area on the left, and a larger lot a tenth of a mile south of the trailhead on the right. Make sure you arrive early for easy access to parking. The trail to Bronson Cave can be very confusing, the trail  begins from the fire road on the right at the end of the road. If you continue going up you can get a trail that leads to the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Park Observatory

Friday, December 12, 2014

Who Knew #14 Orange County was Once Part of Los Angeles County

Who Knew that one hundred and twenty five years ago, on Aug. 1, 1889, the southern portion of Los Angeles County broke away to become Orange County. 

A map of the old Los Angeles County

According to KCET, 
A trip to the county seat in Los Angeles required two over hot and dusty roads in the summer time -- through mud and mire in the winter time. Bridges there were none, and often during the rainy season, the rivers swollen to raging torrents cut off all communication with the metropolis for weeks at a time. A lumbering old stage coach three times a week carried the mail, and at the compensation of ten cents a mile banged and battered the unfortunate passenger onward to his destination at the reckless speed of five miles an hour.

Discussions and attempts to break away from Los Angeles County took 10 years with original proposals such that the city of Downey and Whittier would become part of  "Anaheim County". After a few battles California legislature decided to incorporate a new county. Politicians then decided to name the county, for the citrus fruit in an attempt to promote immigration by suggesting a semi-tropical paradise–a place where anything could grow.

The plaza in the City of Orange in 1889, the year Orange County split from Los Angeles County. Courtesy of the Orange Public Library.

On the day Orange County separated, there were about 15,000 residents, three incorporated cities, and no paved roads. Their growth was slow but steady, reaching only 34,000 residents  by 1910. But in the following decade,  population nearly doubled. In the roaring '20s, it doubled again, to 120,000. 

Prior to WWII, Orange County was centered on agriculture.any crops would do well and bring prosperity, taking advantage of our ideal climate and soil, until a disease would wipe them out and force them to find something new, beginning the cycle again. Along the way, Orange County residents  had enormous success with grapes, apricots, walnuts, and oranges. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Historical Landmark #14 Watts Towers

California Historical Landmark #993

Address: 1727 E. 107th Street Los Angeles, California 90002

Watts Towers transformed a poor working class neighborhood in South Los Angeles into a world-class destination for folk art. One man, Simon Rodia an Italian immigrant  built the towers by hand in the triangle-shaped yard next to his house between 1921 and 1954. For thirty-three years, he worked on these towers until he one day just left and never came back.  He fashioned scrap steel pipes and colorful broken bits and pieces of glass and pottery, bottle caps, seashells and even bowling balls into what is now known as the Watts Towers. After he left some of the .

By the time Rodia finished working on the towers, they had been discovered as Southern California’s most unusual tourist attraction. In 1959, the City of Los Angeles stated that they were unstable and unsafe and would have to be demolished. Fans from far and near protested. Tests proved their durability and miraculously, they still soar today.

Watts Towers officially became a California Historical Landmark in 1990.

Pictures from my visit on December 7, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Filming Location #2 The Fast and The Furious

Located in the vicinity of Angelino Heights are  two filming locations of the first installment of the Fast & the Furious franchise.

Dominic Torretto's House

Actual Location: 722 E. Kensington Rd. Los Angeles

The house was featured in the Fast and The Furious, and in Fast 6

Actual House

I took a picture from an angle because this is a private property. There is no garage, it seems that was added by the production company.

About a block away is Bob's Market. This market was Toretto's Market & Cafe in the film and was the first scene of the film when Brian (Paul Walker) goes in to order  a Tuna Sandwich and encounters the rest of the group.

I was able to walk in to Bob's Market and got myself a water, just to see the inside of the store. It a mom and pop shop and was just used as a backdrop. I did not ask the lady anything about the film, first because she did not look like she wanted to talk and because I figure people go in there on a regular basis to ask those questions,

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who Knew #13 The Origins of Black Friday

Today as I opened a yahoo browser to go over my old email, I realized there was a countdown clock in black bold letters just like this.  In bold black letters I was being informed the countdown of the days before black Friday.  So I wondered, what's the history behind this day and who coined the term black Friday.

 So after a few hours (not really a few minutes) of researching a who knew moment post came to mind. I am not running out ideas, I am serious, I just thought, it was really a who knew type of thing... 

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960's to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a holiday season.

In the 1960's, police in Philadelphia  complained about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” This was due to the traditional Army vs. Navy football game and a busy shopping mall with deals that people could not resist. 

 The term took off in a big way, but not for the reasons the cops hoped. By the 1980's the idea of black Friday became a national phenomenon and a great marketing strategy 

So there you go the origin to the term Black Friday  came in the 1960's, and the really good deals started since the establishment of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Historical Landmark #13 El Campo Santo Cemetary in Old Town San Diego

2410 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA92110
California Historical Landmark #68

El Campo Santo Cemetery is San Diego's second oldest cemetery, and dates back to 1849 with the burial of its first resident, Juan Adams. Burials in this Catholic Cemetery continued through 1880, welcoming San Diego dead of all different backgrounds, including, founders of San Diego like the Estudillo family and even notorious criminal Yankee Jim Robinson who was hung at the site of the Whaley House as is said to be one of the popular ghost of the town.

Photo from When I went I could not find it, but it might of been one of the grave sites that no longer had a name other than the rocks indicating that there was a grave,
Between 1849 and 1897, 477 persons were buried in these grounds.

Residents of El Campo Santo have been repeatedly disturbed as the growing city moved the graves to make room for the living. In 1889, the community built a horse-drawn street car line through the cemetery, right over 18 existing graves. This line eventually became a road, San Diego Blvd, and, in 1942, was paved and turned into a modern street. As you walk to this location, the paved down street says that you are currently stepping on old graves.  Most of the graves are not well kept and some are fenced.

This Cemetery does not bring good vibes, as it looks abandoned and a spot for witchcraft and other  practices. As we went in we saw many lighted  candles that were meant for either separation from a lover or other romance with someone. It is not something to be surprise about as this place is not gated and can accessed it any time of the day by jumping over a 3 foot cement fence. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Who Knew #12 Brooklyn Dodgers Football Teams

When you hear the word Dodgers, you quickly associate it to baseball --the Los Angeles Dodgers. Anyone who is a fan of the game or pop culture might know that the Dodgers were once the Brooklyn Dodgers before moving to Los Angeles. So here comes the big who knew. Who knew there has been multiple professional football teams named after this storied franchise?

There has been three different football teams named after the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball club

The Brooklyn Dodgers who were part of the NFL from 1930-1943
The Brooklyn Dodgers who were part of the AAFC (All-American Football Conference) from 1946-1948
The Brooklyn Dodgers of the Continental Football League of 1966

NFL Brooklyn Dodgers from 1930-1943

As told by a few historical sports sites this team was highly associated with the Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball team. Like the NY Giants baseball and football teams, Brooklyn shared the name Dodgers for baseball and football. It was a much more profitable recognition and it was better for business. Both  Brooklyn Dodgers  team shared Ebbets field, as they would not overlap due to football being a winter sport.

The team played for 13 years and only had 2 winning seasons in which they landed in 2nd place. The franchise all time record was 60-100.

The Dodgers made NFL history on October 22, 1939. That day, at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers played the Philadelphia Eagles in the first NFL game shown on television. The Dodgers won the game 23–14.

Another interesting tidbit is that this franchise has indirect ties with the Indianapolis Colts, as the franchise folded in New York, the NFL moved the team to Texas and became the Texans. After another disaster team all the players were moved to an expansion team in Baltimore the now Indianapolis Colts.

 AAFC Brooklyn Dodgers 1946-1948
The reason why the NFL Dodgers folded was because owner thought the AAFC would offer more incentives thus moved the franchise to All-American Football League. During the 1940's the AAFC had better players and was challenging the National Football League.

As for the AAFC Dodgers, they had three horrible seasons and decided fold and merge with the AAFC Yankees renaming the team to the Brooklyn-New York Yankees

Brooklyn Dodgers Continental Football League 1966
This team actually had no relations to the Dodgers baseball team, to the extent that the reason why the team only lasted for one season was because the Dodgers actually sued this team for copyright infringement.

The team tried to gain viewers and fans in Brooklyn as the baseball team was getting ready to move to Los Angeles that even hired and named Jackie Robinson as their general manager.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Historical Landmark #12 Whaley House

Whaley House CA Historical Landmark #65 
2476 San Diego Avenue. 
San Diego, California 

I have visited the Whaley house twice and every time I have been there I  always learn new interesting history behind it. Now a museum, people tour the house looking for ghosts and historical vibes.

The Whaley House built in 1857, was the home of Thomas Whaley and his family . At various times it also housed Whaley's general store, San Diego's second county courthouse, and the first commercial theater in San Diego. The house has witnessed more history than any other building in the city

During your tour you will see the courthouse room, some of the items that were sold in the general store, as well as the theater which is located upstairs.

Americas Most Haunted House in America

According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960

According to the Whaley House main website
The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is "Yankee Jim." James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. The local newspaper reported that he "kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death." Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there.

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering the entire Whaley family during museum tours. Many members of the Whaley family died at this house which also includes a suicide from one of the Whaley daughters, Violet Whaley.  The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue  right by Old Town San Diego.  Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum.

 Pop Media

The Whaley House has been featured in many historical documentaries as well as a wide variety of paranormal and sci-fi shows, including SyFy's Channel's Fact or Fake: Paranormal Files and Travel Channel's Americas Most Haunted

In 2012 there was an independent low-budget movie titled The Haunting of Whaley House. Which uses the history of the Whaleys as the premise of the film. The movie can be found on Netflix. 

Check out the trailer:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Historical Landmark #11 Mason Street School

Location: 3966 Mason St., Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Historical Landmark #538 

Built in 1865, this was the first public school house in San Diego. Mary Chase Walker was its first teacher. She received a salary of $65/month. After eleven months she quit teaching and married Ephraim Morse who was president of the school board at the time.

Mason Street Schoolhouse in 1870

The San Diego History Center has an excerpt  from a paper Mary Chase Walker wrote in 1898 entitled Recollections of Early Times in San Diego.

Mary Chase Walker
 I arrived in the bay of San Diego on the morning of July 5, 1865. It was a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth. The first night of my stay at the hotel, a donkey came under my window and saluted me with an unearthly bray. The fleas were plentiful and hungry. Mosquitoes were also in attendance. An Indian man did the cooking and an Irish boy waited on me at the table, and also gave me the news of the town. The landlord told me I could go into the kitchen and cook whatever I wanted if I didn't like the Indian's style and I availed myself of this privilege. I rented two rooms in the Robinson House for $2.00 a month. My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.
Miss Walker taught for 11 months in the Mason Street School  She became the center of controversy when she invited a black woman to lunch at the Franklin House and some diners stormed out, while others stared with contempt. Her story became so controversial that led to her quitting her position despite being supported by the superintendent (her husband)

Mason Street School served the community from 1865 to 1872. In 1872 the school was moved to a 4 room structure half a mile away. The Mason Street School was converted into a home until about 1918.  From 1918 until the late 1940’s the building housed a restaurant.


The building was restored into a museum  in 1955 and considered a California Historical Landmark. 

Here's a list of punishments at Mason Street Schoolhouse


1. Boys and Girls Playing Together
2. Fighting at School
3. Quareling at School
4. Gambleing or Betting at School
5. Playing at Cards at School
6. Climbing for Every Foot Over Three Feet Up a Tree
7. Telling Lies
8. Telling Tales Out of School
9. Giving Each Other Ill Names
10. Swaring at School
11. For Misbehaving to Girls
12. For Drinking Spiritous Liquors at School
13. Making Swings and Swinging on Them
14. For Waring Long Finger Nails
15. Misbehaving to Persons on the Road
16. For Going to Girls Play Places
17. Girls Going to Boys Play Places
18. Coming to School With Dirty Faces and Hands
19. For Calling Each Other Liars
20. For Wrestling at School
21. For Weting Each Other Washing at Playtime
22. Scuffling at School
23. For Going and Playing about the Mill or Creek
24. For Going about the Barn or doing any Mischief about the Place

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Who Knew #11: Wrigley Field in Los Angeles

When most people hear the name “Wrigley Field,” they picture brick walls, ivy and a team with the longest World Series drought in Major League Baseball. But two years before the Chicago stadium became known as Wrigley Field, there was already another ballpark with the same name in Los Angeles, California.

The story began in 1921, a few years after William K. Wrigley Jr. became principal owner of the Chicago Cubs. Wanting to acquire a minor league team in California, he acquired the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. (Not to get confused with the current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) After failing to find a place for the newly acquired Los Angeles Angels, he decided to build his own ballpark. Wrigley hired architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who had designed Cubs Park (now known as Chicago’s Wrigley Field) to design the stadium after Cubs Park.

Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League

 Wrigley Field was a perfectly symmetrical ballpark with more than 20,000 seats on the corner of 42nd Place and Avalon Boulevard in South Central Los Angeles.

For 33 seasons, 1925 to 1957, the park was home to the minor league team Los Angeles Angels. The minor league baseball days ended when the Brooklyn Dodgers transferred to Los Angeles in 1958. Rumors swirled Los Angeles, that the Dodgers would perhaps use Wrigley Field as their temporary home while awaiting construction of their new stadium. Dodger owner Walter O' Malley criticized the stadium for having small dimensions, but the real reason why he opted out for the Los Angeles Coliseum  was because it sat 93,000 people.
Wrigley Park Supporter hoping the Dodgers would call it home

The stadium became vacant until 1961, when the now LA Angels of Anaheim became a Major League Baseball team. The team used this stadium for only one year until they awaited their new stadium in Anaheim. The stadium then became very popular for filming. Before MLB integrated the Home Run Derby to the MLB All Star Game, famous baseball players would come to this field and film a home run derby style show

The stadium once again became vacant and with the rise of two Major League Baseball Stadium the venue became vacant and only used for other recreation events. The city of Los Angeles decided to demolish the stadium for a new recreational facility and a medical facility. Demolition began in March 1969. The once futuristic and first known Wrigley Field disappeared and is often forgotten due to Wrigley Field in Chicago still serving as a home to the Chicago Cubs.

Wrigley Park being demolished in 1969

Interesting Facts: 

Cubs Park was renamed to Wrigley Field until 1927. Almost 5 years after L.A's Wrigley Field

William K. Wrigley's company Wrigley's Chewing Gum

1920's ad for Wrigley's Gum

Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at: