Ernie Marez keeping men’s fastpitch softball alive in Corona, Calif.

Written by Bob on October 10th, 2013

Meltz.Dave.FP.1web Dave Meltz, a veteran pitcher in California and Wisconsin, helps keep men’s fastpitch alive by pitching for Manny’s Crew in the Corona Men’s Fastpitch Winter League. Photo By BOB OTTO

CORONA, Calif – Men’s fastpitch softball has fallen on hard times in Southern California since its heyday of the 1950s to late 1980s. Some call the sport’s demise a free fall headed for extinction. Some have already issued its death sentence.

But you won’t hear such dire verdicts coming from Ernie Marez of Corona. For 11 years he has held spring and winter leagues, and the annual Ray Angulo Memorial Tournament, in honor of his late father-in-law, a fastpitch pitcher, who passed away in 2000.

He does all this – plus manage his own team – to keep the sport alive and help it grow in Corona.

“We want to get more people interested,” said Marez, “and keep it going.”

    COMMUNITY EFFORT

Marez says he’s not a lone warrior in his efforts. He credits Corona’s legendary manager Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez and John Perez of the Corona Chicanos, Ruben Marmolejo, Robert “Budda” Ward, Manny Echeveste, and several others like David Valdivia, who manages the Beaumont Coyotes for stepping up in the struggle to save the sport.

The winter league is currently underway and will run into December. Four teams are playing – the Chicanos, Red Line, Manny’s Crew and Marez’s So. Calif. Rebels. With guest appearances from the Beaumont Coyotes.

League play is held Saturday afternoons at 2 p.m. at Promenade Park in Corona. The teams also play in tournaments – primarily on the Indian reservations of Soboba, Morongo, Pala, and Rincon, Marez said.

He praises Native Americans for their love and devotion to the sport.

“We played in a tournament at Pala and they had 11 teams,” he said. “And we’ve played in tournaments that had 16 teams. They are developing a lot of good young players and pitchers on the reservations.”

The Pala Reservation team has long played in the NAFA World Series and is considered one of the stronger teams in Southern California.

    GOOD LEAGUE FOR BEGINNERS

As far as developing players in the Corona – Riverside – San Bernardino area, Marez says his league offers a good venue for young players to learn the sport.

“We’re an (ASA Class C) league and we’re good for developing players,” Marez said. “The younger guys like the sport because of the competition.”

Marez would like to expand his league from four to six teams. He realizes that he and his league, and his Corona fastpitch collegues alone cannot bring the sport back to its prominence in Southern California, but instead he has set a more achievable goal.

“I just want to keep it going,” he said.

The winter and spring leagues are low cost. The entry fee is $280, with additional game fees of $30 for umpire fees and $20 for a scorekeeper.

For more information about the league and the Ray Angulo Memorial Tournament, contact Marez at 951-377-3364 and visit the league’s website at: Major League Softball / Corona Men’s Fastpitch League

To watch games, Promenade Park is located at 615 Richey St., Corona, Calif.

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. TONY ZARAGOSA says:

    Hi Ernie,just want to say hi to all my friends hope to see again.SEP.5/6 2015 i know fast pitch has it seems to go down hill.Just 3 years ago we started men” fast pitch league here in Fresno Ca.and i have not pitch in 17 years that is a very long time.I played for CORONA RAVENS WENT TO ASA C NAT.1991,SAN BERNADINO COORS,BLAZZERS,ALSO PLAYED FOr MANNY E. AND BEAUMONT COYOTES ASA C NAT 94

  2. Dick Camp says:

    Hey Tony, I just read your comment and it brought back memories of that ’91 Corona Ravens team that we took to the Nationals. I pitched in S. California for over 30 years and remember that team as being one of the most fun I ever pitched for. I’ve been in Texas since ’93 but am glad to read that folks like you and Ernie are keeping the game alive.I recently learned of the passing of Stevie Cabrera a few years ago. Truly, sad news as Stevie was a great guy and an honor to play for. I’m not sure if you’ll ever read this, but if you do, say hi to any of the guys from that team that you might still be in touch with.

  3. Bob says:

    Hi Dick, Good to hear from you. I remember you. If you don’t hear from Tony, maybe send him an email. If you don’t see it, this is it: jzaragosajr@gmail.com. Take Care, Bob.

  4. john ray haagsma says:

    lots of great times playing softball in corona , with the b&g hay softball team keep the game going j ray

  5. Bob says:

    B&G was one of the strongest teams in the area, and was started by John Haagsma, who brought his sons John and Gary into the game. John was one of the best ASA Class A pitchers in So. Calif. John, there might have been another Haagsma along with your dad who helped start the team? An uncle perhaps? My memory escapes me, so if you can clarify that, it would be great. Please say hi to your Dad and Gary. I sure enjoyed watching your team play and playing against you guys. Take Care.

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