As summer rolls into the Antelope Valley, it’s nice to look back on one of our favorite American pastimes- baseball. Baseball has been played in the Antelope Valley well over one hundred years, starting as early as 1892 (Gurba, 2005). MOAH collections has several photos of early teams within our collection, some of which are shown here. In the 1910s, there were three teams in the valley- the Mojave, Palmdale, and Tehachapi teams, which were said to have a strong rivalry (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Photograph from c. 1910 of the Lancaster, Mojave, and Tehachapi baseball teams (Gurba, 2005; MOAH Collections).
According to local historian Norma Gurba, because few recreational activities existed for young men to pursue at the time, folks would play ball for hours (Gurba, 2005). Figure 2 depicts the Lancaster baseball team of 1918. Olen Forquer, back row, second from right, and M. Dodge, front row on right, were heavy hitters for the local team (City of Lancaster, 1983; photograph from Mr. And Mrs. Glen Settle).
Figure 2: The 1918 Lancaster Baseball team (City of Lancaster, 1983; photograph from Mr. And Mrs. Glen Settle).
The entire Antelope Valley community would come out to watch the games and hold barbecues (Gurba, 2005). Figure 3 shows an early barbecue event after a game at Rawley Duntley’s Oak Creek Ranch near Willow Springs.
Figure 3: A baseball game and barbecue at Rawley Duntley’s Oak Creek Ranch near Willow Springs, exact date unknown but likely c. early 1900s (Gurba, 2005; MOAH Collections).
Baseball has continually been played since its first emergence in the AV. Figure 4 shows the Lancaster “Squirt” baseball team, c. the end of World War II in 1945. Team members Eldie McClaurin, second from left, and Ronnie Carter, second from right, back row, Forrest Goode, far left, and Glen Settle, far right, front row, still lived in the Antelope Valley during the 1980s (City of Lancaster, 1983).
Figure 4: The post World War II Lancaster “Squirt” baseball team (City of Lancaster, 1983; photograph from Mr. And Mrs. Glen Settle).
Today, the city of Lancaster’s Athletics Division offers three seasons of adult softball with men’s, women’s, and coed teams during the Spring (March-June), Summer (July-October) and Winter (November-January). The games are played at the Big 8 Softball Complex which consists of eight championship softball fields and is located at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park, formerly known as Lancaster City Park. The complex is host to 800+ tournament teams and 460+ league teams annually. The tournament season runs from March-November and showcases tournaments from ASA (Amateur Softball Association), USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association), SCMAF (Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation), and CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) (City of Lancaster).
If you are interested in learning more about joining a team and keeping an AV tradition alive, please visit the City of Lancaster’s Athletics page (Athletics | City of Lancaster (cityoflancasterca.org), the official website of the Big 8 Softball Complex (Home | Big 8 Softball Complex) or call 661-723-6077.
City of Lancaster, Athletics | City of Lancaster (cityoflancasterca.org).
City of Lancaster and Centennial Committee, Images of baseball teams provided by Mr. And Mrs. Glen Settle, published in Lancaster Celebrates a Century 1884- 1984 A Pictorial History of Lancaster, CA, 1983.
Gurba, Norma H. Images of America Lancaster. Arcadia Publishing, 2005.
Museum of Art and History (MOAH), Images of early Lancaster baseball teams.