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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Mexican-American fastpitch history in Wichita preserved through first-hand accounts

Guest+speaker+and+historian+David+Rodriguez+%28far+right%29+discusses+the+film+with+community+members+at+the+screening.+Mexican+Americans+Hit+Home+Runs+in+Kansas+premiered+at+the+Evergreen+branch+library+on+Sat.+
Genesis Merriett
Guest speaker and historian David Rodriguez (far right) discusses the film with community members at the screening. “Mexican Americans Hit Home Runs in Kansas” premiered at the Evergreen branch library on Sat.

Anita Mendoza and David Rodriguez from the North End Wichita Historical Society, along with Derek Landwehr, a WSU local community history major, collected stories, trophies and photos from 17 former fastpitch players over the course of two months to create a documentary.

A premier screening of the film “Mexican Americans Hit Homeruns in Kansas” was held at the Evergreen Library on Saturday, Oct. 14.

The film discussed the history of fastpitch softball, which became a tradition in Mexican families in Kansas during the last century.

“We kind of had to rush to, you know, get a grant proposal done,” Landwehr said. “We got it done in time, so to film for the 75th anniversary fastpitch tournament up at Newton.”

They traveled to other cities, including Newton, Salina and Emporia to interview Mexican-Americans and collect their stories.

The preservation of the underrepresented Mexican history in Kansas was important to those who put the project together, as well the people whose stories were being told.

The film was dedicated to the culture, pride and resilience through the hardship and uncertainty of Mexican immigrants.

“I’m just trying to keep the Mexican-American fastpitch softball from dying out,” Rodriguez said.

Fastpitch softball is not as common as it used to be, according to Landwehr. Soccer has become more popular in recent years, so one of the aims of the documentary was to motivate families to participate in fastpitch more often.

By sharing this history with the community, Mendoza hoped to share an appreciation for the pride, camaraderie and brotherhood shown by the fastpitch players.

“I think it will help the future generation have pride in their community and their history,” Mendoza said. “And you know, let them know that we’ve been here a long time.”

The Wichita Historical Society is still collecting donations of photos, stories, and other memorabilia of Mexican culture in Wichita. They can be contacted through their website, email,  or Facebook page for more information and to receive donations of Mexican-American history.

Mendoza plans to show the film in Newton and Emporia later this year, but final details have not been set. Upcoming dates will be announced on The Wichita Historical Society Facebook page.

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About the Contributor
Genesis Merriett, Reporter
Genesis Merriett is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a freshman majoring in mathematics, however, Merriett enjoys writing as well. She is originally from Missouri, but lived in Colorado for most of her life until moving to Wichita five years ago. Additionally, she enjoys drawing, crochet and exploring new places in her free time.

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