Santa Maria’s rich sports history was on display Sunday at the Elks Lodge | Sports

ByTommie C. Curtis

Jul 17, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The vibrant history of sports in the Santa Maria Valley was remembered fondly during an all-sports presentation at the Elks Lodge in town Sunday. 

The Santa Maria Valley Sports History Club held a presentation highlighting all sports in the valley then, with dozens of former and current athletes showing up to reflect on the area’s rich history. The event was organized by history club members Eddie Navarro, Al Ramos, Joe Talaugon and Ernie Corral.

The club’s presentations touched on all sports, but there was a focus on the Middle League and Guadalupe Little League, youth baseball leagues that were founded in 1952.

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Guadalupe’s first youth baseball program was formed when area merchants and citizens raised money to start a four-team league that summer. The Middle League came to Santa Maria when founder Bill Ellis organized it with play beginning in ’52. The league was for boys aged 13-15 who had graduated out of Little League, yet were too young to play in the American Legion League.

Of course, the Santa Maria Indians, the town’s once proud semipro baseball team that ran from 1944-2008, is always a highlight when telling the Valley’s sports history. The history club had plenty of Indians memorabilia and articles from famed manager Scoop Nunes, who was the team’s general manager and board president for 43 years. 

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The Santa Maria Valley also has plenty of history when it comes to women in sports, with teams like the Santa Maria Valleyettes and Orcutt Express, two powerhouse softball teams.

Those in attendance posed for a group picture featuring the men and women who’ve been part of Santa Maria Valley sports. 

Frank Soares, Art Amarillas and Tommy Randolph were on hand for the presentation. That trio played baseball and other sports while growing up in the valley. 

Of course Willie Flores, the founder of the Santa Maria Boxing Club, was there to highlight the area’s love of boxing and its history, while John Leo Dato, a current fighter, was there to represent the sports modern-day competitors. 

Blas Torres, a Korean War veteran, was on hand to highlight his boxing exploits. Torres was on the Santa Maria High boxing team in the 1950s before boxing in the Army, becoming welterweight champion while serving in the military and competing in a tournament held in Japan.