Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

They all want to play in the Majors

During the past 20 years baseball has
really become international and according
to Major League Baseball annual report
there is a new record of foreign players
today. The percentage of players born
outside the United States increased to
a 29.2%. The best players in the world,
they all want to come here and play.

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezAccording to the report by Major League
Baseball of the 29.2% of foreign players
the largest number is from the Dominican
Republic with Venezuela following. Cuba
was #1 as far as foreign talent was concerned
until 1959 when the government of Cuba
banned professional sports and prohibited
Cubans from traveling outside the country.

Below listed are the official numbers
provided by Major League Baseball on
total of players from each country as
the 2005 season got under way.
(Note: In the minor leagues the total
amount of Latino players is much greater)

The Dominican Republic leads the way
with 91 players in the Majors. Followed
by Venezuela with 46, then number three
is Puerto Rico with 34. México is in fourth
place with 18 players among the 30
teams, Canada with 15, Japan has 12,
Cuba and Panamá (6 each), South Korea
with 5, Australia and Colombia with 2
players each. Then comes Aruba, Curacao,
Nicaragua, Taiwan and the US Virgin Islands
they all have one representative each..

The Major League team with the most
foreign players is the Washington Nationals
with 16, from six different countries:
Cuba,Dominican Republic,Japan,México,
Puerto Rico and Venezuela. After the
Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles followed
by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York
Mets with 13 players each. Baltimore Orioles
have the most diverse team of all with
players from 8 different countries, which
are:Aruba,Canada,Cuba,Dominican Republic,
México,Panamá,Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

However on this list they do not include
many that have been born in the US but
are of Hispanic roots. For example:
Luis González of the Diamondbacks was
born in Tampa,Florida but his parents
were born in Cuba, Raúl Ibañez of the
Seattle Mariners was born in New York
raised in Miami of Cuban parents,
Alex Rodríguez born in New York City,
raised in Miami of Dominican parents,
Jorge Posada of the Yankees his parents
were born in Cuba (I saw his uncle
Leo play in Cuba and then in the majors),
Manny Ramírez born in the Bronx, New York
of Dominican parents, Mike Lowell
thirdbaseman of the Marlins is also of Cuban
parents as well as other with Latino roots
such as: Alex Cabrera,Alex Ochoa,
Bobby Estalella,Eduardo Pérez,Alex Ochoa,
Andy Abad,Mickey López,Fernando Viña,
Bronson Arroyo (who was born in Key
West just north of Cuba) but his parents
were born in Cuba. And then there are
many others. By the way the great majority
of the Latino American-born USA players
speak perfect Spanish.

If those above would be added there is
no doubt that over 30% of all players
playing today among the 30 MLB teams
would be of Hispanic blood.

Why are there so many Hispanic/Latino
players ?

-In Latinamerican baseball countries like
Dominican Republic,Venezuela,Cuba,
Panamá,parts of Colombia and México
as well as Nicaragua and Puerto Rico
youngsters play baseball 12 months a
year, there is no snow, the weather is
perfect baseball weather. There is also
a tradition, specially in the Caribbean
where baseball was introduced right after
it was played in the United States.

You can travel anyplace in the USA today,
Minnesota or Miami, Chicago or Denver
and you will not see many kids playing
baseball like we/ they used to.
When I was a kid in High School in Miami
I played with the school team.
But when not playing with the school team
we got together next to the Orange Bowl
NW Miami(where they used to have a few
baseball diamonds)and we then picked
teams and played until it got dark.
Sometimes my good friend Manuel
(who just passed away)
way to young- we used to go home and then
go to the dances in Miami Beach, we spoke
baseball all the time !! Teens today are
more concerned about their I-Pods and
websites that averages and ERA’s.
Plus the NBA and the NFL were just the
… “other”leagues, there was no ESPN,
a Slam Dunk wasn’t even in the vocabulary
Coke was a Coca-Cola, a “Ho” was a Hoe
which is a garden tool and the DH was
my Science teacher Diego Hidalgo.

So why are so many Latinos good baseball players?
-Most of these countries are poor and the
“ticket out” for success is either baseball
or the music/entertainment business.

Also in these countries you do not have
the opportunity to play in so many sports
like kids born in the USA, Football, Basketball,

Things in baseball have changed and the
sport has become very internationalized
which I would think is good for the sport
overall, the development, the publicity and
the recruitment of young players.

When Ted Williams played nobody inside
the Media really wanted to find out that
his mother, Teresa Hernández-Benzor
was born in Ciudad Juárez,México and
therefore the man that many today think
was the best pure hitter of alltime, has
Hispanic blood. Of course back in 1941
when Teddy Ballgame finished with
a .406 average(last player to hit .400
in a season) he knew his heritage but
like some kids say today “It wasn’t cool”
to talk about it.

Presently there is a trend in this country
to go the other way. Entertainers like
Jennifer López, born in the Bronx of
Puertorican parents who didn’t really
practiced Spanish as a kid is taking
Spanish lessons and since she married
Salsa star Marc Anthony is all-of-a-sudden
recording in Spanish.

During Spring Training I sat with Dave
García a man with over 60 years experience
in the game of baseball, he has played,
managed,scouted done just about everything
you can do in baseball and he (of Spanish
blood) told he he was always proud of
his heritage and he is extremely happy
that the game of baseball has become
so international. When I recently interviewed
Mariners manager Mike Hardgrove he told
me his two favorite managers were
Billy Martin and Dave García.
When I was working for the A’S during
the Billy Martin days I remember talking
with Martin who told me “I love the
Latino players because they played
with the passion and intensity” like he
was used to play in the 50’s with
the Yankees. Dave Garcia is in my
mind is a “professor”of baseball an
Ambassador to the sport. García is
one of the most loved men in all of
baseball. He planted the seed, developed
players, when they didn’t speak English
he went to them and spoke to them in
Spanish and made them feel good and
important and part of a great sport.

The game of baseball can always use
men like Dave García. He doesn’t like
to take the credit, but believe me, I
have spoken with lots, lots of baseball
people and I have never heard anything
negative about Dave García. When I
told him in Peoria, Arizona during a
Spring Training game about the amount
of Latinos in the Major Leagues his eyes
just opened and told me: “of course,
I knew Latino players were going to
make it and they will continue making it
in the major leagues”.


1 Anonymous { 04.28.05 at 12:27 am }


Outstanding article, hiighly informative, have a few questions:

1. do you think the Caribbean World Series can get major USA TV exposure?

2. is it time for a Latino Hall of Fame, especially for those incredible players like Martin DiHigo who could not compete in the majors until Jackie Robinson broke the barrier? like Zoilo Versalles and Roberto Clemente, the first Latino MLB MVPs?

3. how can Fidel be approached about opening Cuba to baseball again?

2 Anonymous { 04.28.05 at 3:12 pm }


1-The CWS(Caribbean World Series was televised
by Fox Sports International in Spanish and English.
As a matter of fact I did their Play by Play in
2202 and 2003 in English with José Tolentino doing

2-There is a Hispanic Hall of Fame, It is The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum, yours
truly is the VP we are a non-profit organization
founded in SF in 1999, you can check our

3-Fidel is a tough guy to deal with he has to have
100% control. In 1998 the Orioles played in
Cuba in exhibition. My friend Jon Miller told me
when he came back how tough it was to get
around in Havana, since the government had
a couple of guys “guiding”him around town.
I do not see any change regarding baseball
and the US with Cuba. Until 1960 there was
a team in the International League(AAA)
The Cuban Sugar Kings who had their home
in Havana.

Good questions.

3 Anonymous { 05.18.08 at 12:30 pm }

whts up xixixiwzk. awesome!

4 Anonymous { 07.07.08 at 12:15 pm }


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