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Hispanic baseball dynasty honored in exhibit

8:12 AM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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"A lot of stories helped me grasp on my father and my great grandfather and realized who they were," Lopez said.

In the early 1920s, the Great Western Sugar Company hired almost 10,000 Hispanics to work on their beet fields. Colonias - or housing - were built for the migrant workers on company owned land.

"After working in the beets, you needed some recreation. Baseball was a passion. Baseball did not require a huge outlay," Charles Collins, professor of geography at the university, said.

Local teams were soon formed, and they traveled to play teams from other colonies.

"We traveled a lot. We slept under trees. We slept under cars. We played at the prison," Gil Carbajal, former Frays player and now team owner, said.

The baseball brotherhood included the Lopez brothers, Garcia's, Carbajales and Tellez.

"We kind of had a hold on the starting positions," Gil said.

Instead of a team, they felt more like a family.

"Nowadays, the modern word for that is team chemistry," Gil said.

Before Jackie Robinson joined the majors in 1947, the Sugar Beet League were supporters of integrated baseball.

"We found a 1941 photo of the Greeley Grays team where it shows the first African American. We have a 1950 photo of the Grays with three Anglos," Gabriel said.

They created a pastime for people in the colonies as well. Families would make a day out of traveling and watching the Grays. Cheering and honking their car horns in support of their home team.

Although the face of the Grays has changed, the mission is the same; Have positive relationships, a solid character and first-class baseball.

The Beets, Baseball and Beyond exhibit is on display at the Michener Library on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado through Nov. 3.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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