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The Latino Influence in Baseball This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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In baseball today, many of the elite players are of Latin descent. All-Star talents such as Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Albert Pujols are just a few examples. However, the huge success of Latino players is a recent phenomenon in baseball.

Latinos have been playing baseball for a long time; the first Latino player was Esteban Bellan in 1871. However, the first player to make the All-Star team was Alfonso Carrasquel in 1951, exactly 80 years later. Other notable firsts for Latinos include Luis Aparicio, the first Latino Rookie of the Year in 1956; Juan Marichal, who threw the first no-hitter in 1963 for the San Francisco Giants; and Roberto Clemente, who broke new ground by being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. He was also the first Latino player to reach a historic milestone of 3,000 career hits. Many consider Clemente to be one of the greatest ball players of all time and one who would have built an even greater legacy if he hadn't died tragically in a plane crash.

Baseball has come a long way. In its earliest days, it was a game of the rich, white male. Over time, African-Americans were integrated into baseball, and now, in our generation, many of the game's elite players are Latino. The list of recent MLB stars of Latin descent goes on and on. From Manny Ramirez, to Robinson Cano, to Edgar Martinez, these players are cornerstones for their franchises.

So, just how recent is Latino stardom in baseball? Taking a look back to the 1990 All Star game, only seven Latino players were voted in and only two started (Jose Canseco and Sandy Alomar Jr.). Just 10 years later, in the 2000 All-Star game, the number increased to 17. Many of these players were just starting their careers. Then, five years later, in the 2005 All-Star game, the number increased, this time to 26. Latino players in the starting lineup also grew; between the American and National Leagues there were nine Latino starters. Much like the 2000 All-Star game, some of them were just beginning their careers and would have many more All-Star appearances. At the 2010 All-Star game, 27 players of Latin descent were elected to represent their teams. Although this may not seem like growth since 2005, it shows that Latino dominance in the sport ­remains high.

If you look around the league and take the best player from each team, many of them are of Latin descent. For example, the Yankees, Cardinals, and Red Sox have recently been to the post season and are perennial contenders. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is arguably one of the best to ever play. The argument can be made that Robinson Cano, also a Yankee, is the best player on the team. Moving to the Cardinals, Albert Pujols could also be considered the best player maybe in the history of baseball. The Red Sox have All-Star first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a perennial producer.

Latino players dominate baseball today. However, if we look back just 10 to 20 years, few elite players were of Latin descent. Some may wonder to what we can attribute this influx of talent. The answer
is simple: Scouting is a rather recent practice in baseball, but scouting in Latin American countries is even more modern. Teams are getting a chance to look at Latino players when they are quite young. Now, scouts are sent to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, wherever there is talent, and watch these players for two, three, even four years. In baseball today, it is not unusual to hear about a 16- or 17-year-old Latino player being signed with a Major League team.

So what's next for Latino players? Have they reached their peak? Quite the contrary: we're just scratching the surface of their talent in baseball. Scouting in Latin American countries is still growing and can only be expected to produce more stars. The future is bright for Latino baseball players, and their impact on the game will be profound.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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Kevin Durant said...
Oct. 17 at 7:57 pm:
i love this website!
 
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KevinDurant35 said...
Oct. 17 at 7:54 pm:
i love this story! baseball and basketball are great sports!
 
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Boog44 said...
Feb. 17, 2012 at 9:30 am:
So true. it ruianing baseball
 
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HandshakinJaglowski said...
Apr. 29, 2011 at 8:30 am:
Great story! love all those baseball players
 
Bilal A. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 29, 2011 at 9:06 am :
Thank you very much. I appreciate it!
 
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