Of all the baseball teams in Ventura County, there was none more feared or more powerful than the Santa Paula Aztecas. The team had started their career as the Zaragosans, but later changed the name to the Aztecas. At the start of the 1935 semi-pro baseball season Gould Taylor was the starting pitcher for the Santa Paula Merchants, an Anglo team that played their games at Merchants Field. The Aztecas would change that in short order. On April 22, the Santa Paula Chronicle reported that “Gould Taylor chucked his first game for the Aztecas and held the visitors scoreless until the 6th.”

The Aztecas were all Mexican except for Gould Taylor and Pete Hughes. We don’t know what prompted a white player to switch to a Mexican team and play against other Mexican teams in parks used only for Mexican leagues. In 1935 that was a bold decision. It could have been that Taylor was seeking out the best team and the best competition. It was all about the game. For the all-white Santa Paula Merchants, this move forced them to integrate and bring in an African American pitcher from Los Angeles. (Oxnard Press Courier article, courtesy Museum of Ventura County).

Shown here is Joseph “Gould” Taylor in his Santa Paula Merchants uniform. Taylor was one of the starting pitchers for the Aztecas along with Louis Peralta and Mike Pineda. Gould Taylor had been a stand-out player at Santa Paula High School, captain of the baseball team at Ventura Junior College, and had played Class AA ball for the 1933 Mission Reds in San Francisco. Gould Taylor was a life-long resident of the County and continued to play baseball into his later years on senior teams as well as coach youth baseball. He died in Camarillo in 1989 at the age of 80.  (Photo Courtesy of Gould Taylor family).

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