The Compromise

History of Los Paisanos Baseball Club

By Donavon Lopez
Published on LatinoLA: February 23, 2005

The Compromise

The Compromise is an oral history of the Texas A&I University's Los Paisanos Athletic Club (LPAC). Texas A&I is located in Kingsville, Texas, roughly 200 miles South of San Antonio. During the Spring of 1987, Texas A&I University cancelled the track and field program on a recommendation due to lack of funds. In its place tennis and rifle teams were created. The same semester, Texas A&I students rallied behind student senate president Daniel Lopez in an effort to obtain university funding for track as an NCAA and Lone Star Conference sport.

Lopez, some irate track members and several members of the student body held protests and rallies which included, hanging running shoes all over the university's campus, writing a letter to senator Carlos Truan Democrat-Corpus Christi, circulating petitions and running around College Hall. The result was the Texas A&I Los Paisanos Athletic Club, a track and baseball organization.

After the students abandoned the effort to obtain university funding for a track as a NCAA and Lone Star Conference sport, Daniel Lopez developed a track and field club at the university and threw in baseball for good measure. The Texas A&I University Los Paisanos Athletic Club was a result of a compromise reached between the students upset over the removal of track and an administration willing to work to improve tensions between the two groups.

As a club sport, they could compete in-intercollegiate competition against other schools, but they would not be members of the NCAA, or belong to a conference. The administration allotted $1,000 to form a track and baseball team in club form, that is, not a varsity sport or affiliated with the Athletic or Physical Education Department. There were no scholarships, no recruiting, and no paid coaches, or managers. The university funded the program during the 1987-1988.

By forming a baseball club, the administration could see what kind of interest there was for baseball and maybe make it into a varsity sport. The track club never developed due to a lack of participation. However, the baseball team played a full schedule and made an agreement to play home games at the ball fields at Dick Kleberg Park in Kingsville and Zeke Mora field in Alice. Los Paisanos scheduled several teams including, Pan American University in Edinburg, St. Mary's University, St. Edwards University, Prairie View A&M, Texas Lutheran, Texas Southern, Incarnate Word College, Trinity University, Laredo Jr. College, Southmost College, currently U.T.-Brownsville, Mary-Hardin Baylor, and Ivy League Dartmouth college. At first, Los Paisanos consisted of only students. Then, several players from outside the university joined.

Along with the narrative of Los Paisanos club history this work explores the baseball teams relation to the community and culture. The story of Los Paisanos allows us to understand the desire and need for a college baseball program in the area. Clearly, as the club endeared, it changed the philosophy of Texas A&I forever. This particular study has special meaning to the author, not only because his brothers Daniel and Donnie Lopez were the Los Paisanos Athletic Club president and manager respectively, but because he received the privilege of playing on the team.

Many of the club members went on and achieved greater accolades, including Arturo Pecos, Kingsville City Commissioner, Tony Gonzalez, Kleberg County Sheriff, I.Q. Vidaurri, TAMUK SUB. Director, Dr. Richard Shaparel, TAMUK Dean-Art Dept. Bill Lee, director of the Amateur Athletic Union in Kingsville, Joe Cusack, TAMUK Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs, Ken Perkins, KISD school board member, Mike Filla, KISD. coach and teacher, James Davis, Ricardo ISD. athletic director and teacher, Rodney Ramirez, Bruni ISD. athletic director and principal, Mark Guess, West Oso ISD. head football coach and teacher, Sonny Perez, coach and teacher for Corpus Christi ISD. and Head Football Coach for North Dallas ISD. Emi Canales, City of Driscoll police officer, Gustavo Varela, head baseball coach for San Diego ISD. and Eagle Pass. Jesse Hernandez, TAMUK Postal Dept. Daniel Lopez, TAMUK Financial Aid Dept. Rodney Haggerton, Kingsville business owner, Bruce Roberts professional guide and outdoorsman, and many others.

This is the first attempt to relate the history of the Texas A&I Los Paisanos Athletic Club. The most important sources used to develop this study will be oral histories collected by the author. Other information was obtained through the Kingsville Record, The Texas A&I University South Texan, the Alice Echo-News and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The appendix will contain team rosters, schedules and a roster of opponents. Texas A&M Kingsville History professor Dr. Harry R. Huebel will co-author the book. He is also a local sports personality and has a love for baseball at all levels. He was also the chairman of the committee, which directed the masters thesis that evolved into Donavan Lopez's first book, Practice! Practice! Practice! The History of the King Ranch Cowboys Baseball Team.

The first reason for the book began with the idea Los Paisanos played a significant role in Texas A&M University-Kingsville's history and should be brought to light. Another reason for the book was the shedding of light on the clubs influence in inspiring the baseball program at Texas A&I. The club forced baseball into the administration plans for the future of the athletic program.

Some of the events which took place stand out in the memories of the players minds. One, was a game scheduled with Dartmouth University during Spring break, which had several of the players side tracked to the beach in Port Isabel, causing the game to be cancelled, due to lack of players. Also recalled was a three-day six-game road trip to Laredo, San Antonio, and Austin, where Los Paisanos scored first in every game and still lost all of them. Of course they were competing against full scholarship varsity teams with great facilities and huge budgets.

Los Paisanos eventually won two games, defeating Trinity University 10-8 in San Antonio and once in Alice. The first win appeared Los Paisanos had won the World Series. Daniel Lopez said. We were just happy to get our first win after losing 27 straight games. The first year we ended the season 42-2.

Los Paisanos objective was to finish the season, to prove baseball could be played at Texas A&M-Kinsgville. Winning was not as important as finishing the season, because, many had said college baseball would never be played at Texas A&M-Kingsville and Los Paisanos set out to prove them wrong, even if it meant recruiting non-students, or people from the bleachers.

About Donavon Lopez:
Donavon Lopez is a teacher and author and a team leader.

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