Los Cardenales, 1985
Mike Hamann (ND '82, MA '87) back row, third from right
Banda music and baseball.During steamy summer afternoons, I recall sitting in the bleachers watching long doubleheaders, listening to the steady strains of traditional Mexican-style polkas pouring out of pickup trucks and vans parked near the diamond.
It was the mid-1980s, and my husband Mike was the starting center fielder for the Los Cardenales of the Mexican-American baseball league in northern Indiana . Their coach, Jesse Moreno, brought together Mexican guys from the factory where he worked and young Anglos in their 20s, whom he had coached when they were in Little League.
Every weekend was like a festival. Moms and grandmas gathered on blankets under the trees along the outfield grass, tending kids who dashed between park swings and drinking fountains and the mounds of clay behind the dugout.
Groups of old men and teen-aged boys parked themselves behind home plate—alternately cheering or ribbing opposing players—yelling, “ciego, ciego” when they felt the umpire's eyesight was faulty.
Games went on all day. And in the early evening, the music played on as ballplayers and their extended families gathered for cookouts in the parking lot.
Sharing that experience brought Mike and me closer to a community we never would have come to know. Instead of seeing Mexican-Americans as “others,” we became for those brief summers of baseball, us.
As our nation debates immigration policy, it is clear the economic and political questions are complex and will be difficult to address. Many Notre Dame voices weigh in on these issues in our cover story.
But at the heart of the debate is also a fear that our society is changing because of immigration. With our country's population reaching the 300 million mark this fall, many Americans are concerned that there are too many newcomers who speak different languages and have different traditions and ways of life.
But isn't this an age-old concern?
Commenting on immigration issues in 1999, the U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote: “[T]hroughout the Church's and the nation's experience, time has affirmed the contributions of each successive immigrant group. Though initially derided…they have proven valuable far beyond what could have been expected…”
After all, have we forgotten our own immigrant roots?
It wasn't so long ago that Ireland 's sons and daughters, entering this country in droves, bore the brunt of anti-immigrant sentiment. At Notre Dame, especially, we should remember how in 1926 then-president Father Walsh took a term of derision and made it a rallying cry for immigrants seeking a better life in America—the Fighting Irish.