Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger
The successes of today ’ s Latino baseball players are non surprising. See the home-run race
between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which took topographic point during the 1998 baseball season.
While McGwire may keep the record, Sosa ’ s accomplishments were every bit celebrated and received broad
Latinos, nevertheless, have non ever been welcomed by America ’ s favourite game. In Viva Baseball!
Samuel O. Regalado paperss the history of Latino baseball players, chronicling tests and trials
that parallel the Hispanic community itself.
The history begins in 1871 and delves into the narratives of
many great participants.
Regalado, the nephew of former major leaguer Rudy Regalado, is a professor of history at the
California State University, Stanislaus. He has had articles published in Journal of the West and
Baseball History. Reprinted from Viva Baseball! Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger,
by Samuel O. Regalado. Copyright 1998 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Used with the permission of the University of Illinois Press. ( Available with a new Afterword in
April 1999. )
Chapter 1 That Particular Hunger
They come from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and Venezuela, largely, but they might as
good come from the same topographic point. The same thing drives them. They don ’ t want to travel back place to a
criterion of life they tried so difficult to go forth. They all had the “ particular hunger. ”
& # 8211 ; Octavio “ Cookie ” Rojas
Dodger Stadium reverberated with exhilaration on the warm eventide of May 14, 1981. Dodgers
fans had come to see a immature hurler ’ s try to set up a major conference record for the most
back-to-back wins by a cub at the start of a season. Furthermore, they came merely to see him. None
of the 56,000 seats was empty as frequenters sat impatiently in the ballpark expecting their hero ’ s
effort to capture his 8th consecutive triumph. As the Dodgers took the field, the boom of the crowd
reached a crescendo when Fernando Valenzuela, the twenty-year-old Mexican star, popped out of
the dugout on his manner to the hill. Throughout the bowl fans shouted encouragement in both
Spanish and English as Helen Dell, the Dodger Stadium organist, used the “ El Toro ” subject alternatively
of the more familiar “ Charge ” for that eventide ’ s conflict call.
In the imperativeness box, journalists from around the state jockeyed for infinite as they sought to cover the
phenomenon dubbed “ Femandomania. ” Behind their mikes, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully
prefaced the competition with a dramatic analysis of Valenzuela while Jaime Jarrin, the “ other voice of
the Dodgers, ” did the same for his Spanish-speaking hearers, which numbered good into the
1000000s. Indeed, in the following several hebdomads similar scenes occurred in other National League metropoliss
when Valenzuela pitched. The indigen of Etchohuaquila in Sonora, Mexico, had captured national
attending. Fans clamored to acquire his autograph ; newsmans groped for new information on him.
English-speaking baseball followings were captivated by the immature adult male from a low background
who seemed to whirl thaumaturgy on the hurler ’ s hill. Their Spanish-speaking opposite numbers saw
him & # 8211 ; and the environing craze & # 8211 ; as symbolic of Latin influence in the United States. Latins had
Clearly, the attending directed toward Valenzuela was a watershed in the history of Latins in
America ’ s national athletics. Although prior to 1981 Latins had ne’er received such countrywide
acclamation, Fernando Valenzuela was however merely the most famed representative of a
distinguished group of jocks who have helped determine major conference baseball and American civilization.
Talented stars such as the Alou brothers, Luis Aparicio, Jorge “ George ” Bell, Orlando Cepeda,
Roberto Clemente, Adolfo Luque, Juan Marichal, Dennis Martinez, Orestes “ Minnie ” Minoso, and
Ruben Sierra were outstanding during their several old ages of drama. Most were driven by a
despairing desire to win & # 8211 ; what Octavio “ Cookie ” Rojas described as that “ particular hungriness. & # 8230 ; . I
knew it was traveling to take a batch of difficult work, desire, and finding [ to win ] , ” reflected
Dominican Manny Mota in 1982. “ When I came to the United States to play professional baseball,
I wanted.something that cipher was traveling to give me. I had to travel and acquire it myself. ”
As these baseball innovators explored their frontiers in hunt of stardom and the fiscal wagess
frequently denied them in their native lands, they expanded the American national interest into a truly
international athletics. Latin baseball players coming to the United States entered a clean establishment that
personified the American dream of chance, upward societal mobility, and success. They brought
to major and minor conference baseball non merely their singular accomplishments but besides genius and personal appeal that
enhanced the game ’ s witness entreaty. Ultimately, their accomplishments motivated nines and the
American media to modify their substructures, such as spread outing reconnoitering parts and using
The importance of the Latin contingent in American baseball, nevertheless, transcended the athletics.
Players frequently bridged spreads between Latin America and the United States & # 8211 ; and their distinct and
frequently conflicting civilizations. Throughout most of the 20th century, major conference rolls included
those from Cuba, the Dominican Republi
degree Celsiuss, Mexico, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other
Central and South American states. Brothers joined brothers and boies followed male parents as
coevalss of Latin participants gave America ’ s national interest an international composing. Often
heroes in their ain lands, they sought to exhibit their national pride on the diamond. Most Latin
participants saw themselves as “ embassadors ” stand foring their several states and frowned at the
stereotypes that homogenized all Latins. At the same clip, their Spanish-speaking lingua was a
important bond between participants in malice of their varied nationalities. Their linguistic communication both shielded them
from unfavorable judgments and served as an hindrance in their pursuit for acknowledgment.
Furthermore, the linguistic communication barrier highlighted the troubles of Latin socialization into the United
States. Separated from household and place, participants struggled daily with solitariness and the booby traps of a
foreign culinary art. For many, such jobs were sometimes complicated by the get downing points of their
American callings. While some Latins landed in countries with big Hispanic enclaves, others were less
fortunate. Rico Catty traveled to Yakima, Washington ; Juan Marichal went to tiny Michigan City,
Indiana ; and Zoilo Versalles was a seventeen-year-old in Elmira, New York, places with about no
Latin occupants. In add-on, political tensenesss all excessively frequently disrupted the lives of Latin participants. In
1961 broken diplomatic ties virtually eliminated recruiting in Cuba, which up to that point had been
an of import beginning of endowment.
But harmonizing to Latin American baseball participants, their most distressing brush was with racism.
Brought to the United States because of their accomplishments, most Latin participants believed in the great
American dream. And they assumed that success came by virtuousness of virtue. Too frequently, nevertheless, they
learned otherwise. Professional baseball in the United States mirrored the larger American society.
The major conferences had excluded African American participants from the late 19th century until
1947. After the colour barrier was breached, the turbulency created by the civil rights motion in
the resulting decennaries proved fazing for Latin participants on and off the field. Often singled out
because of their background, Latins repeatedly felt the stings of American racial bias and
favoritism. Finally, while Latins and American inkinesss confronted racism together, Latins entirely
dealt with the extra injury of socialization.
Yet for many participants from Spanish-speaking states, their negative experiences faded into the
background when compared with the poorness found in their ain states. Baseball for many was
clearly the lone manner out. Furthermore, it embodied the Latin virtuousnesss of individuality, personal
award, and unity.
Get downing in 1911 Latin participants came to the United States with turning regularity, and with each
beckon their impact in the major conferences enlarged. From 1911 to 1947, they entered the big leagues
about entirely via the rolls of the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Senators, who fostered
reconnoitering attempts to enroll low-priced endowment, chiefly from Cuba. But after Jackie Robinson joined the
major conferences, black Latins poured into the United States during the integrating old ages of the fiftiess
and 1960s. The inflow reflected expanded exploratory survey attempts that drew participants from Latin parts good
beyond Cuba. By the 1970s and 1980s, as incoming endowment from Cuba diminished, major conference
plans, such as those found in the little Dominican town of San Pedro de Macoris, were
created to develop endowment and East participants to U.S. civilization. Early Latin innovators such as Felipe
Alou, Santos Alomar, Tony Oliva, and Manny Mota served within the major conference model to
aid train the hereafter stars seeking the gold and glorification that their predecessors had achieved.
Furthermore, Roberto Clemente ’ s bequest proved to be an of import inspiration.
Like their African American opposite numbers, Latins played excellently. From Roberto “ Beto ” Avila
in 1954 to Jose Canseco in 1988, Latin participants captured the Most Valuable Player award six
times, in add-on to seven Rookie of the Year rubrics, three Cy Young trophies, and 17
batting titles. By the terminal of the early 1990s the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted five
Latins: Luis Aparicio, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, and Rod Carew were honored for their
outstanding callings in the major conferences while Martin Dihigo, a Cuban participant, represented the
American black conferences
The enlargement of baseball ’ s Latin contingent in baseball mirrored the turning importance of Latin
civilizations in the United States. Victims of racial and cultural stereotypes prior to World War II,
Spanish talkers struggled to derive a bridgehead in mainstream U.S. civilization. As the Hispanic
population increased, societal and political organisations developed to turn to a assortment of urban and
rural issues. Profiting from the additions of the activism of the sixtiess, a greater figure of second- and
third-generation Latins, armed with instruction and advanced accomplishments, entered the larger corporate and
media markets. Many were determined, nevertheless, to keep their cultural heritage. Most surely
the successes of Latins gave rise to optimistic thought ; one Latin leader thirstily announced that the
1980s would be the “ Decade for Hispanics. ”
The accomplishments and convulsion faced by Latin participants coincided with major developments in the
larger Spanish-speaking universe. Other Latins sought to keep cultural ties in an unfamiliar and
arbitrary environment. The battle to accomplish acknowledgment and para in the major conferences was portion
of the larger Latin pursuit for equality in the United States. Indeed, the experiences of Latin participants in
the major conferences provided a alone position and frequently brought into clearer focus the larger
PHOTO ( COLOR ) : Viva Baseball
By Samuel O. Regalado
Copyright of Hispanic is the belongings of Hispanic Publishing Corp. and its content may non be copied without
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Beginning: Latino, Apr99, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p42, 2p, 1c.
Item Number: 1783747
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