1972 All-Star Team Gets 50th Anniversary Recognition
What was more than 10 years in the making culminated with a three-day celebration recognizing and honoring a group of men for what they accomplished 50 years ago as 12 year olds.
The 1972 Civic Athletic Club (CAC) Little League All-Star Baseball team from the Westside of San Bernardino finally received the recognition they so well deserved for winning a California State Championship. It was the first time an all-Black little league all-star baseball team from the westside had ever won a state championship.
“The 50th anniversary celebration is well deserved, and these men getting recognized for what they accomplished 50 years ago is long overdue,” said KC Caldwell. “CAC Little League benefited so many youth in the area, and what the 1972 All-Star team accomplished was an amazing feat,” added Caldwell. “My big brother was on the team, but all those guys were like big brothers to me. What they did brought the city together, but more importantly it brought positive attention to a part of San Bernardino that rarely received positive attention,” Caldwell went on to say. That was just one of the reasons Caldwell felt it necessary to honor the 1972 CAC All-Star Team.
The celebration honoring the 1972 CAC Little League All-Star Baseball team and their head coach Al Jury began Friday night with a reception held at Yaamava’ Resort and Casino. Sixth Ward San Bernardino Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin and Seventh Ward Councilman Damon Alexander attended the reception, along with honorees, family, friends and neighborhood fans. Everyone enjoyed hearing Al Jury and the former All-Stars reminisce and tell stories about the days of old.
“I am truly honored to be included in this celebration. These men represent the sixth ward, my ward, it speaks to heritage we represent,” said Calvin. “It’s so nice to see the love and support these men are receiving, I thank God I’m in the position to assist in honoring them for what they accomplished,” Calvin added. “We don’t celebrate community like we use to, so this is something really special and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Calvin continued.
Councilwoman Calvin presented the honorees with special recognition certificates from the City during the celebration at Newmark Little League Baseball Field, which was one of the locations the 1972 all-star team played during their impressive 12 game winning streak en route to their state championship.
Following the recognition ceremony at Newmark Little League, the former all-stars and their coach continued the celebration with a dinner at Dave and Buster.
“This is great. There was no way in the world I was going to miss this. This is a once in a lifetime occasion and I’m so blessed to be a part of it. God is good,” said 1972 all-star team member Michael Adams, who flew in from Milwaukee to celebrate with his childhood teammates. Adams played centerfield on the championship team. “Seeing all these guys is amazing, I feel like a kid in a candy store right now. Being able to see and spend time with Coach (Al Jury) is truly a special moment,” added Adams.
The team’s first baseman Gary Dawson flew in from Texas to be honored with his former teammates. “I haven’t seen some of these guys since we played little league. The feeling I have is indescribable. It feels like we’re picking up from the age of 12,” said Dawson. “It was important for me to attend because I wanted to see the guys, but I especially wanted to see Coach and say thank you. I didn’t realize the sacrifice he made to be our coach until I started coaching. This man worked all day, spent time with his family, then took time out to coach and mentor other kids. That is a sacrifice he didn’t have to make, and I truly appreciate him for that,” explained Dawson.
Many echoed the sentiment of not realizing the significance of the accomplishment at the time, but they understand now.
“We were just a bunch of 12-year-old kids having fun playing the sport we loved. We knew we won a state championship, but we didn’t know what it really meant. We brought a city together, we put a community on the map” said Bobby Caldwell, who played catcher.
“I remember we took pictures with Mayor Bob Holcomb and went to a party at his house. I also remember being named Mayor for a day. That was exciting for a 12 year old kid,” said Billy Wilson.
The three-day celebration came to a perfect end with a pre-game recognition ceremony at San Manuel Baseball Stadium with Coach Al Jury throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Inland Empire 66ers took on the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The 1972 All-Stars were well received by the fans in attendance with a roaring ovation. Then they relaxed and enjoyed a nice baseball game.