Latino baseball players have entertained fans for decades with memorable moments. Here are 10 ballplayers who we’ll never forget based on swag, confidence, and of course, flair for the game.
1. Fernando Rodney’s arrow to the sky
Not sure who made the bow and arrow cool first between Katniss Everdeen or the Dominican closer. Rodney, with his baseball cap tilted to the side, takes an imaginary arrow from his back and shoots it to the sky after closing out a victory. Arguably one of the best celebrations in baseball.
2. Jose Bautista’s bat flip for the ages
The swag level went up 10 notches after Bautista’s epic bat flip to knock off the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. Joey Bats, that bat flip will always be cool and will go down in MLB history as one of the most clutch.
3. David Ortiz’s heroics in the 2004 ALCS
Baseball writers can do a book on all the clutch moments for this future Hall-of-Famer’s career, but Ortiz’s finest moments might have been during the 2004 ALCS against the rival New York Yankees. The Red Sox were down 0-3 in the series and needed a miracle. Big Papi delivered a walk-off two-run home run in the 12th inning to win Game 4 and came back the next night for a walk-off single in the 14th inning of Game 5. The Red Sox carried that momentum to defeat the Yankees in seven games and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.
4. The birth of K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez has never heard of pressure. As a 20-year-old rookie, Rodriguez dominated batters in the 2002 Postseason coming out of the bullpen for the Angels. The Venezuelan pitcher flustered batters with his sharp-breaking curveball to guide the Angels to the World Series title. K-Rod won five games during that Postseason run. He had zero regular season wins before that.
5. Sergio Romo’s post save celebration
Yup, there’s a pattern here. It’s not easy being a closer. This next closer helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series from 2010 to 2014. Romo fits the bill as a dominant closer and he had a decent celebration. The Mexican pitcher liked to cross his arms repeatedly while doing a one-two step. Surely the Dodgers will welcome Romo with opens arms.
6. Carlos Beltran’s scorching Postseason
Beltran was more than lit during the 2004 Postseason with the Houston Astros. The Puerto Rican hitter was traded midseason from the Royals to the Astros and led Houston to the NLCS. Beltran was in savage mode with eight home runs, 14 RBIs, 21 runs scored and a .435 batting average in 12 games during the memorable Postseason ride. Beltran cashed in that winter with a $119 million contract with the New York Mets.
7. Javier Baez, the Cubbies’ smooth operator
Alright, let’s get some young blood on this list. No one might be more swaggy than Baez in the big leagues right now after what he did for the World Champion Cubs in October of last year. Baez has been known to deliver a web gem at second base or fire a pickoff laser to the plate. Baez does everything with ease and doesn’t break a sweat.
8. Vlad Daddy
Vladimir Guerrero was that tough, old-school guy with a little bit of flair. The Dominican outfielder crushed baseballs without batting gloves and loved to throw out runners with his rocket arm. The former Expo and Angel might have the best arm ever for a non-pitcher. If you don’t believe it, check the clip above. Vlad had a cannon.
9. Don’t mess with Pedro
Oh, you never wanted to get Pedro Martinez riled up. He was flashy and often had a smile on the mound, but he was at his best when he was launching fastballs when the competitive juices were flowing. Don’t let his slim frame fool you, he had no problem hitting a batter with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball on the shoulder. He’s calmed down now as a standout analyst for MLB Network.
10. The next generation of swag on the field
This list features some of the flyest Latino ballplayers of recent years, but watch out for the next crop of youngsters such as Gary Sànchez, who went on a monster home run streak for the Yankees in 2016. The Indians’ Francisco Lindor already has a handful of clutch moments from last year’s Postseason. Expect the flashy Puerto Rican to make another World Series run. You can’t forget Carlos Correa and his web gems as the Astros’ standout shortstop.