Contact: Joe Vargo, Perris Public Information Officer
Phone: 951-956-2120
jvargo@cityofperris.org

Foss Field Stirs Memories for Perris Resident

Perris resident Armando Cadena displays the Sportsmanship Award he won while playing in 1962 for the Perris Valley Little League.Perris resident Armando Cadena displays the Sportsmanship Award he won while playing in 1962 for the Perris Valley Little League.

Perris resident Armando Cadena takes a stroll down memory lane each time he watches his grandson play t-ball at Foss Field Park.

The venue takes Cadena back to the days half a century ago he played football on the same field, and even earlier, when he was part of a Little League squad that played on an empty filed across from Foss Park that now houses the City’s Cesar Chavez Public Library.

Cadena, 63, recalls fondly those days when he played centerfield and caught for the Perris Valley Little League Lions. The Sportsmanship Award he received in 1962 holds a place of honor on his mantle.

“I loved growing up in this City,” Cadena said this week while watching his grandson, Christopher, 6, play his final t-ball game of the season. “I loved it so much I’ve never left. It was a great experience. We all had a good time playing. It was really an idyllic childhood.”

Cadena’s life in Perris has its roots in a much smaller, rural community that thrived as a center of the California potato industry.

The Perris of his youth was home to 1,000 people—today the population exceeds 70,000. His dad, Nick Cadena, served as Perris’ first mailman. Prior to that, folks picked up their letters and packages across D Street from the Southern Hotel.

Like many school-age youngsters, Cadena worked loading 500-pound tubs of potatoes on trains departing from the Depot Building near C and Fourth streets, earning $1.25 an hour for a 12-hour shift.  To earn extra pocket money, an enterprising youth could pocket 50 cents for mowing a neighbor’s yard.  That was enough to enjoy a movie at the Perris Theatre (25 cents) with enough left over for popcorn (15 cents) and a soda (10 cents).

Perris resident Armando Cadena, son Chris, and grandson Christopher,6, display trophies earned while playing for the Perris recreation department.Perris resident Armando Cadena, son Chris, and grandson Christopher,6, display trophies earned while playing for the Perris recreation department.

Summers were all about playing Little League Baseball. When Cadena played between 1958 and 1962, just four teams comprised the league. They were the Lions, sponsored by the Lions Club; the Rotary, again a club-sponsored team; the 7-Ups, sponsored by a regional bottler and the Cubs, sponsored by a Perris medical professional. Cadena still remembers the coach he played for—Max Cochran. The old coach, he said, instilled valuable lessons.

“Be yourself, and get along with everybody,” he said.

Later, Cadena would play at Foss Park for the Perris High School Panthers. The high school for decades was located on the site of the current-day City Hall at 101 North D Street. At 6-feet and 190-pounds, he played left tackle.

Following a stint in the Army during the Vietnam War, Cadena returned to Perris, where he became a maintenance worker for the Perris Elementary School District, a post from which he retired. Perris has changed dramatically since his days as a Little Leaguer and Cadena likes what he sees—plenty of new subdivisions and businesses, new parks, greatly expanded recreational services and the restoration of much of historic D Street.  He says he’s a Perris resident for life.

“I love this City,” he said. “I loved it as a kid and I love it now.”