prepare

As big leagues prepare to return amid pandemic, memories of when barrio baseball ruled East L.A.

Conrad Munatones goes through old photos at his home in San Dimas. He fondly remembers the days when baseball in the barrio "was quite a thing." <span class="copyright">(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Conrad Munatones goes through old photos at his home in San Dimas. He fondly remembers the days when baseball in the barrio “was quite a thing.” (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and Dwight D. Eisenhower was still in the White House the last time Southern California went this deep into the summer without a Major League Baseball game.

For Conrad Munatones, then a 20-year-old catcher from East Los Angeles, the big leagues were an East Coast thing, like Broadway plays or Philly cheesesteaks.

“When someone said the Brooklyn Dodgers, I thought that meant Brooklyn Avenue,” he remembered.

Two minor league teams played in Los Angeles, but to Munatones, baseball meant Sunday doubleheaders at Belvedere and Evergreen parks, where neighborhood legends made their names playing for teams like Eastside Beer, Ornelas Food Market and the Carmelita Chorizeros. The games drew hundreds of people to

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