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The Source: When Mexicans Could Play Ball


When the San Antonio Sidney-Lanier "Voks" won the 1939 city championship basketball game, the arena erupted in violence.

How could a West Side team of Mexican-American kids from the other side of the tracks beat the dominant King William-adjacent Brackenridge Eagles? The event was too much for one Brackenridge fan to take, and he attacked one of the teenage "Voks" players. A full-scale riot broke out as "Voks" fans responded in kind.

"Only when the Mexicans went from perennial runners-up to champs did the emotions boil over," said Author Ignacio Garcia, who wrote "When Mexicans Could Play Ball: Basketball, Race and Identity in San Antonio 1928-1945."

Garcia takes a look back at a segregated San Antonio, the role basketball played in creating a sense of identity, and how it helped challenge the stereotypes of an era. We talk with Ignacio Garcia and take your calls.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive