The Prospect Hill Yellow Jackets Athletic Club: Neighborhood Demographics

In post-World War II San Antonio, federal employment at the city’s five military bases anchored the growth of the Mexican American middle class and by the 1950’s many of these Mexican Americans had moved to supervisory and technical positions.

Historian Richard A. Garcia observed about this community, “Many Mexicans, however, never experienced any overt discrimination because they never left the West Side. They had no need to leave; shopping, church, fiestas, schools, work, merchants, cantinas, and even red light districts were there. It was indeed a town within a city” (R. A. Garcia 43-44).  The Hispanic community living in the West Side of San Antonio was developing a Mexican American mentality through education, political principles, and racial/cultural pride, while demanding the promise of a "more adventurous, more exciting, more significant future” (R. A. Garcia 298). The Mexicans who moved to the Prospect Hill enclave or who already lived there were middle-class businesspeople, teachers, and clerks. These Mexicans were leaders of Prospect Hill (R. A. Garcia 52-53).

Jerry Guevara is son of the late Joe M. Guevara who served as president of the PHY baseball league in the 1960’s. He recalled how his former coach worked at Kelly Air Force Base (Guevara, Jerry. Interview. By Adam Nerio. 31 March 2020.). The military base employed some 20,000 workers in decent paying jobs with health benefits and a pension (Miller 120).  In addition, most of the parents whose children participated with the PHY worked civil service jobs “either at Kelly or Randolph,” including Joe Guevara. (Guevara, Jerry. Interview.)

In addition to many of the stable, two-parent families working at Kelly Air Force Base, local parents’ occupations also included small business owners, mail carriers, auto/airplane mechanics, welders, and shipping clerks. One parent worked at El Popo tortilla factory and donated tostada chips to be sold at the baseball field concession stand. (Nerio, Mark. Interview.) It is clear during the 1960’s, families entered the middle class as they had steady, full time jobs and able to afford homes with a backyard and a car for transportation.

Most families who participated lived in a fairly defined neighborhood or two around the PHY field. They were not from the older, traditional parts of the West Side near Lanier High School or the Guadalupe Theater. Therefore, most of the players walked to practice and to games. My father attended elementary school with many of the same boys who played on the teams. Most players attended school together, Ogden Elementary (SAISD) and what was then Cenizo Park Elementary (Edgewood ISD) which was around the corner from the PHY field.

Sports were not only fun for the participants but provided a sense of community and entertainment that connected the Mexican lower middle class. The Mexican community was the largest ethnic group, most of them living in the West Side of San Antonio. By the end of the Depression, the Mexican laboring class was “simply surviving” while the lower middle class was “finding and building its sense of Mexican American community” (R. A. Garcia 67). During this time, sports provided an outlet for dealing with the struggles and frustrations of life while experiencing joy and a sense of accomplishment through competition, teamwork, and success in winning.

My father and uncle played together on the Cardinals team throughout Minor League and Little League. The Minor League was for players aged eight through eleven, while the Little League was for those aged twelve through fourteen. Currently on display in both of their homes is a framed photograph of the team. This photo illustrates the sense of community and joy, discipline, respect, and pride the players and coaches felt during this time. The photo appears on the cover page of this report.


Black Hawks Soccer Team 1963-64. Source: PHY 40th Anniversary Book, Willie Chacon private collection.

With the success of the Little League, the PHY athletic club wanted to have a winter program. Therefore, the athletic club started a soccer program in 1961. Rudy Rivera served as president of the soccer program from 1961 – 1962 and was helped by several men who were instrumental in organizing the league including, Charlie Chacon.

Interview of Willie Chacon by Adam Nerio, July 9, 2020. Willie recalls meeting congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and the positive experience it had on him.

The Prospect Hill Yellow Jackets Athletic Club: Neighborhood Demographics