1972 All-Stars to Celebrate Historic State Championship
It was the summer of 1972 and kids who were playing Little League Baseball dreamed about making the all-star team for their respective leagues. One all-star team from the Sixth Ward on the westside of San Bernardino that was led by two hard throwing twelve year old pitchers and a head coach who would eventually become a record setting National Football League referee made headlines en route to San Bernardino’s first and only California Little League State Championship.
The 1972 Civic Athletic Club All-Star team, known as C.A.C. was coached by Al Jury and Leonard (Sonny) Davis. No one could have imagined this team would have united the City of San Bernardino the way that they did. The All-Star team (which was made of players from teams with names like the Gas Hogs, Cars, Missiles, Jets and Rockets) took San Bernardino on an incredible journey and would go down in the annals of history for the Westside community.
The Westside of San Bernardino was known for its predominately minority community made up of families striving to fit in to a city that invariably ignored their existence. The team would go on to win twelve straight games before being defeated in the Western Regional Playoffs. Another unique aspect of the ride to the State Championship was the venue, which was christened in San Bernardino that same year. The Western Region Little League headquarters was established in 1972. This made it even more memorable; a team from San Bernardino would play its State and Western Region games in the inaugural year of the stadium.
C.A.C. was two games away from earning a spot to play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, an all-star team from Hawaii upended C.A.C.’s run in the semifinals.
In today’s era of Little League baseball, the rules specify a double elimination tournament. In 1972, teams in California would be eliminated after only one loss. Additionally, only one team held the crown as champion of California, unlike today where there is a Southern California Champion and a Northern California Champion. So, the one loss in the Western Region playoffs eliminated the incredibly talented team that didn’t realize the magnitude of their accomplishment at the time.
July 2022 will mark the 50-year anniversary of that storied C.A.C. All-Star team. A team that was made up of 14 kids and two outstanding coaches. Unfortunately, player Byron Wilhite and coach Leonard (Sonny) Davis have passed on. However, they will be honored posthumously. The remaining 13 players went on to careers that would have them living in different parts of the United Sates. In an attempt to honor this all but forgotten C.A.C. All-Star team, a city celebration is being planned. The well deserved effort to recognize the C.A.C. All-Star team and coaches on the 50 year anniversary is scheduled for a three day celebration July 8 through July 10. Felton Anderson, who was the league president at the time of the All-Star team’s historic run, will be recognized in the celebration as well. For more information call (909) 425-5007.