When you think of Baseball, you may naturally think of Latino professional players. We know that baseball is a major sport played in almost every Latin American country next to futbol. Almost every Dominican kid wishes to be the next Pedro Martinez or Alex Rodriguez. Same in Cuba where Baseball is also their national past time. However, the truth is that Latino players make up approximately 25% - 28% of the MLB players. The Dominican Republic has the most players in the MLB with 79 while Venezuela is second with 45 (as of April 2004). Puerto Rico is third with 36.
What most people may not know is how many Latino players are Hall of Famers. Do you? There are only seven Latin American-born players who are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame but with so many great ballplayers currently playing this number is sure to grow. So who are these magnificent seven?
Of course, the great Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico) is the most known. He was a 12 time All-Star who won four National League batting titles. In addition, he is only the 11th player to reach 3,000 career hits. Tragically, Clemente’s life ended at the young age of 38 in a plane crash while flying relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. The normal five year waiting period to be considered for the Hall of Fame was waived and Clemente became the first Latin American-born player elected.
The other players are Martin Dihigo (Cuba), Juan Mariachal (Dominican Republic), Luis Aparicio (Venezuela), Rod Carew (Panama), Orlando Cepeda (Puerto Rico), and Tony Perez (Cuba). Ironically, Dihigo never played in the majors (racism existed for Hispanics too) but played in Mexico, Cuba, and the Negro Leagues during the 1920-1940 era. He excelled at every position except catcher. Dihigo was voted in 1977 by a vote of the veteran’s committee and became the only player inducted into the hall of fame in Cuba, Mexico and U. S. Mariachal became the first Latino pitcher voted into the Hall of Fame. He played for the San Francisco Giants. Aparicio was a great shortstop who played for the Chicago White Sox. He had nine Gold Gloves and stole over 506 bases. Carew had 3,053 career hits, which are the most by a Latin American player. He has seven batting titles and has hit over .300 in 15 consecutive seasons. Carew played for the Minnesota Twins and Anaheim Angels. Cepeda unanimously was voted National League Rookie of the Year in 1958. Also, he was a 10-time All-Star. Finally, Perez played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 70’s and was a great clutch hitter.
With so many talented Latino players, we will surely see more in the Hall of Fame.
Mike Arias is editor of http://www.HispanicScene.com and President of Hispanic Scene Holdings, LLC (http://corporate.hispanicscene.com ) which is an Internet holding company that owns web sites that cater to Latino market. Hispanic Scene is a portal site that provides news, articles and information about Latinos.