Leagues of Our Own mission baseball teams

Baseball was introduced to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the 1800s by soldiers stationed at forts Brown and Ringgold. Games played against each other and local city teams were popular public events. Popularity of the game increased with the rapid growth of the Valley’s population in the 1910s and 1920s. Public entertainment, including baseball, helped bind communities together in the days before radio and television. Impromptu games among friends could be played in any open area with a minimum of equipment. The 1920s through the 1950s were the heyday of baseball in the Valley. Local teams were represented in numerous professional minor leagues during these years. Various youth leagues also enjoyed great popularity. In the 1950s and 1960s the growth of television began to move entertainment, including spectator sports, to an indoor setting. While the popularity of baseball and its cousin, softball, has continued, the early- to mid-1900s remain the glory days of baseball in south Texas.

Stationed at Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City, this photo shows members of the U.S. 4th Cavalry’s baseball team circa 1934. Soldiers stationed there came from all over the United States and many played baseball in their free time. During World War Two, soldiers and airmen stationed at Moore Army Airfield in Mission and Harlingen Army Airfield in Harlingen continued the tradition. (Santillan et al. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas)

C.P. Wright's Mission Amateur Team

Mission Amateur Team Champions, 1913. Top Row (left to right): Joe L, Whitehead, C.P. Wright, (coach), Rankin, Linn, Bill R. & Perry. Bottom Row (left to right): Fay Martin(?), Oscar S., Crook, McKinney & Brooks. Photo from Mission Historical Museum Archives.
Three players from C.P. Wright’s amateur baseball team from Mission pose with their mascot in 1913. Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum.
An unidentified Mission ball player strikes a pose as he holds a slice of watermelon, circa 1920s. Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum.

Mission Bearcats

Mission Highschool Baseball Team

Members of the 1920-1921 Mission Bearcats High School Baseball Team. Photo courtesy Mission Historical Museum Archives.

Mission Grapefruiters

The Mission Grapefruiters were a minor league baseball team based in Mission, Texas. The Grapefruiters played as members of the Class D level - Gulf Coast League in 1926 and Texas Valley League from 1927 to 1928.

On July 16, 1926, the Kingsville Jerseys of the Class D level - Gulf Coast League, relocated to Mission, Texas. Kingsville had a 14–26 record at the time of the move. The Kingsville/Mission team ended the season with an overall record of 46–52, after compiling a record of 32–26 while based in Mission. The team placed 3rd in the four–team league under managers Tom Deering, Fred Paschal and Ed Marburger, finishing 12.0 games behind the 1st place Laredo Oilers in the final standings.

The Mission Grapefruiters continued play in a newly named league in 1927. The Texas Valley League formed as a four–team Class D level league, evolving from the 1926 Gulf Coast League, with the Corpus Christi Seahawks, Edinburg Bobcats, Laredo Oilers and Mission Grapefruits continuing play, as all four teams had finished the previous season as the only members of the 1926 Gulf Coast League.

The Texas Valley League began playing on April 5, 1927, with Mission playing at Laredo. The Mission Grapefruiters had the best overall regular season record, but the team missed the playoffs due to a split–season schedule in the league.

Mission Grapefruiters - South Texas Champions 1928. Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum.

Mission 30-30 Rifles

In the early 1920s, the Mission 30-30 Rifles baseball club was founded by former professional baseball player, Leo “Najo” Alaniz. Jose Carreon Garza, an avid hunter from Penitas, came up with the name the Mission 30-30s, named after the Winchester Model 1894 rifle, which was popularly known as the 30-30 rifle. The 30-30s became a baseball institution in Mission, existing until the mid-1960s. A number of famous South Texans besides Najo played on the 30-30s team, including future Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and future U.S. Congressman Kika de la Garza.

Photograph of 1920 Novena Mission 30-30 Baseball Club. Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum. Numbers written on photo correspond to list of players' names and positions. 1st row, L-R: Eliseo Cantu, 11, Manager; Jose Saenz, 5, Third Base; Leo Najo Alaniz, 2, Pitcher; Pepe Barrera, 6, Shortstop; Porfirio Guerra, 7, Right Fielder. 2nd row, L-R: Pedro Vela, 9, Left Fielder; Dario de la Garza, 10, Captain; Myers (Ft. Ringgold), 1, Catcher; Jacinto Gonzales, 3, First Base; Waltham (car salesman), 12, Umpire; Jose Garza Carreon, 4, Second Base; Jose Contreras, 8, Center Fielder.
Leo Najo (center) posing with two unidentified teammates who are wearing jackets with "30-30" insignia. (n.d.)
Pictured above are members of the 30-30 Rifles semi-pro ballclub that was managed by Leo 'Najo' Alaniz. The photo is from 1938 and Alaniz is in the front row, the third person from the left. Camilo Rodriguez is the fourth player from the left in the back row". Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum.
Spikes 30-30 1954 baseball team posing in front of stands at ballpark. Leo "Najo" Alaniz third from left in front row. Written at bottom of photo: "1954, 18 won, 2 lost". Courtesy of the Mission Historical Museum.


The Mission Fiesta Ladies (est. in 1940) were Mission’s girl softball team part of the Rio Grande Valley Girls’ Softball League during the early 1940s. They closed a successful first season with about a .500 average. There are no known photos of the Mission Fiesta Ladies (also known as the Mission Ladies). All the information gathered on the Ladies is via newspaper clippings.


Calixtra Cadena (left) and Matias H. Cavazos started their family in Mercedes, Texas. They moved to Mission in 1929. They ended up with 12 sons and 4 daughters. Matias was the driving force getting community leaders to build the last 30-30 baseball park west of Mission on Business 83. The ballpark was used by the 30-30 Rifles, the high school baseball team and the Mission American Legion team. It was constructed under the supervision of Matias H. Cavazos in 1945. (Santillan et al. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas)
Mission Mayor Logan Duncan (far right) prepares to throw the first pitch on opening day at 30-30 Field in the summer of 1947. The stadium was built under the leadership of Matias Cavazos (third from right) and was supported by community leaders who eventually owned shares in the park. Later, Leo Alaniz bought out the stockholders and became the sole owner. (Santillan et al. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas)
Played on Labor Day, September 7, 1953 at 30-30 Field, The Mission Derby was the culmination of a long-running feud between rival teams the Madero Outlaws and Mission Spike’s 30-30 Rifles. Fans were treated to an 11-inning thriller which included major stars for each side. As indicated by teammates Cisco Estevis (left) and Reynaldo Valadez pointing at the scoreboard, the Outlaws won 4-3. (Santillan et al. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas)

Works cited

Santillan, Richard A, et al. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas. Arcadia Publishing, 2016.