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In The Spotlight: Corona fastpitch legend, Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez

Monday, September 5th, 2016
FRIENDS - These three gentlemen and fast friends have been around fastpitch for over 60 years each. From left, Jim "Chayo" Rodriguez, Alfonso Lechuga and John Maciel. Photo By BOB OTTO

FRIENDS – These three gentlemen and fast friends have been around fastpitch for over 60 years each. From left, Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez, Alfonso Lechuga and John Maciel. Photo By BOB OTTO

CORONA, Calif. – In 1941, 14-year-old Jim “Chayo” Rodriguez trotted on to a softball field and for nearly 40 years his prolific bat, tenacious defense and fierce desire to win, led his teams to league and tournament victories.

Rodriguez not only played fastpitch softball, but baseball as well on the ball diamonds of Corona, Riverside, Colton and San Bernardino.

Though he loved playing both sports – often five nights a week and in tournaments on the weekend – he finally settled for fastpitch.

    ALL THE SKILLS FOR FASTPITCH

The game required quick feet, a sure-handed glove and fast, accurate throws from his third base spot. And at the plate, Rodriguez’ quick, compact swing was ideally suited for a sport in which the pitcher throws 80-mph rise balls and drops from 46 feet.

Rodriguez played for several top-caliber fastpitch teams including Barto’s Washer, Wink’s Café and Lindy’s Red Devils.

In those days, fastpitch at Corona’s City Park drew hundreds of fans. The competition was fierce with many businesses, restaurants and taverns sponsoring teams.

But finally, the rigors of the game wore down his legs and throwing arm, convincing him it was time to retire. Though his bat argued otherwise.

“I retired at 50 from playing even though I could still hit,” said Rodriguez, who at 86, still loves the game and seldom misses any men or girls’ fastpitch in or around his hometown of Corona.

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Morongo Hitmen Slugfest Paves Way To Beaumont Tourney Title

Monday, July 4th, 2016
The Hitmen won four consecutive games to take the championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

The Hitmen won four consecutive games to take the championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

BEAUMONT, Calif. – The Hitmen of the Morongo Indian Reservation displayed all the skills of a good fastpitch team – speed, power, defense and pitching – to claim the 39th Annual Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at Valdivia Field late Sunday night.

Led by the pitching of Vince Nelson, a 26-year-old right-hander from the La Jolla and Rincon Indian reservations in San Diego County, the Hitmen went 4-0, culminating with a 13-1 victory over the Corona Chicanos in the championship.

Leading up to the championship, the Hitmen beat the Pala Braves 4-3, Colton Dirtbags 2-0, and Those Guys of Long Beach 6-0.

Hitmen's Vince Nelson led  his team to the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men's Fastpitch Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

Hitmen’s Vince Nelson led his team to the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men’s Fastpitch Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

NELSON TOUGH TO BEAT

Nelson won all four games and was selected to the all-tournament team. In the championship, he allowed a run in the second inning, but shut out the Chicanos the rest of the way on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

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