Things That Matter

Here’s Why Only One Of Three Latino Baseball Stars Will Likely Make It Into The Baseball Hall Of Fame

Earlier this week, the Baseball Writers Association of America released its ballot for the 2017 Hall of Fame. Among the 34 players included in this year’s ballot, there are three Latino standouts: Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Guerrero, an outfielder who spent most of his career with the Montreal Expos and the Anaheim Angels, batted over .300 for 12 seasons in a row and had 10 100-RBI seasons. He also had a cannon for an arm:

Credit: MLB
CREDIT: Credit: MLB

Ivan Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove winner, was one of the greatest catchers of all time. Like Guerrero, “Pudge” had a strong, deadly accurate arm.

Credit: MLB
CREDIT: Credit: MLB

And then there’s Manny Ramirez, widely acknowledged as a talented hitter who wasn’t as talented (err… focused) when it came to defense. Ramirez was also known for his eccentric personality:

Credit: MLB
CREDIT: Credit: MLB

So, how good are their chances to make the Hall of Fame? Based on their stats, all three would be shoe-ins to make it into Cooperstown. But Ramirez was busted twice for using performance enhancing drugs, which means his chances are basically zero. Hall of Fame-caliber players such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens have failed to make it into the Hall of Fame due to their association with PEDs.

Rodriguez, who hit more than 300 home runs in his career, has been dogged by PED rumors for years. His former teammate, Jose Canseco, claimed that he personally injected Rodriguez with steroids. Rodriguez has been vague about whether or not he used steroids,  but several of Rodriguez’s teammates from the ’90s-era Texas Rangers  — Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Rodriguez — have been linked PEDs, casting a shadow of suspicion over Pudge’s career.

That leaves Guerrero, who has not been linked to steroids, making him the player out of this trio most likely to be inducted into Cooperstown. Despite his impressive numbers, Guerrero could end up making it into the Hall of Fame in another year or two, as the Baseball Writers Association of America considers players who have been on several HOF ballots over the years, including Tim Raines and Fred McGriff.

READ: The Late Jose Fernandez Was Honored By Players Around Major League Baseball

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There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

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There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

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When it comes to crossing racial barriers in baseball, Jackie Robinson is the first name that comes to mind for many. However, before there was Robinson, there was Luis “Lou” Manuel Castro, the first Latino player in baseball’s modern era and the first to play in Major League Baseball. While his name might not be in the same regard or even known to many like Robinson, Castro earned the important distinction.

But unlike Robinson, Castro’s playing career was short, only lasting 42 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1902 season where he batted for a .245 average. This might be why Castro isn’t as highly regarded or well known as the baseball Hall of Famer who broke baseball’s color line in 1947.

There might be another reason the name Lou Castro isn’t a household name. There are conflicting reports on where he was actually born.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

There is some mystery when it comes to the legacy of Castro that many point to where he was really born. There are some reports that say Castro listed New York City as his birthplace later in his place but it’s widely agreed that he was born in 1876 in Medellin, Colombia. Castro would only stay in Colombia for eight years as his family and he would move to the U.S. due to the country’s political instability during that period. Castro’s family traveled by boat to the U.S. where they arrived in New York. 

According to Nick Martinez, a baseball historian who studied Castro’s life, a list of passengers he researched shows that an 8-year-old Castro was indeed on the S.S. Colon, which arrived in New York City on October 16, 1885, supporting the case that he did arrive from Colombia.

During his teen years, Castro would pick up baseball and by the age of 17 years old, he joined the Manhattan College baseball team. He was known to have quite the sense of humor among teammates and garnered the nickname “Judge.” He’d continue his playing career across multiple minor league clubs before getting his big break at the major leagues. Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack got a good look at Castro and offered him a try-out that resulted in him joining the Philadelphia Athletics.

While his run as a major league player was short with the Athletics, Castro still made enough of an impact to say he contributed to the club clinching the 1902 American League pennant. According to Remezcla, the rookie was invited to be a part of the team’s year-end banquet where gave an acceptance speech on behalf of some fellow teammate. The celebration even resulted in him singing some songs in Spanish. 

There is also the highly debated theory that Castro was somehow related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. 

Credit: Public Domain

The theories don’t just stop with this birthplace, Castro has been linked to being related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. He has both claimed and denied being related to the infamous dictator. It was known that Castro frequently claimed to have been either the nephew or cousin (or even son) of Castro, who had prior family and business connections back in Castro’s home country of Colombia. 

The legacy of Lou Castro might be a bit complicated but he led the way for other Latino ballplayers to break into the big leagues. 

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

While his playing days were short, Castro’s baseball life continued as he became the first Latino to “manage a club in Organized Baseball” after he retired as a player. Castro would eventually die in New York at the age of 64 on Sept. 24, 1941. 

While Castro’s career didn’t immediately lead to a burst of Latin players making their way to the big leagues, it would be another decade before Latino players started to make an impact on the field, he still paved a way for many Latinos to follow. 

Iconic Latin stars like Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants respectively, would rise to fame in the late ’50s. In 2018, the number of Latino MLB players hit 31.9 percent, the highest in 20 years. The number is a testament to the ever-growing popularity of the game in Latin countries and the door that Castro opened back in 1902.  

While his story might not be as well know as other baseball players, Lou Castro does have his place in history. 

Specifically, Latino history. 

READ: This Victory Makes Christian Villanueva The Fifth Mexican Baseball Player In MLB Ever To Hit Three Home Runs In A Single Game

Fans of David Ortiz Celebrated The Baseball Legends Return To Fenway Park

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Fans of David Ortiz Celebrated The Baseball Legends Return To Fenway Park

MLB / YouTube

From the moment that David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic in early June, his extended family, the Boston Red Sox, have been by his side to provide Big Papi and those close to him with “all available resources” that they may need.

After Ortiz had undergone surgery to have his gallbladder and parts of his intestines removed, the Red Sox sent a medical flight to the Dominican Republic to have him transferred to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital for further treatment. Big Papi was released in late July following a third surgery. 

David Ortiz surprised his fans at Boston’s Fenway Park as he threw the game’s first pitch.

It has been a long road to recovery, but on Monday, Ortiz made a surprise return to Fenway Park to see his extended family in person, throw out the ceremonial first pitch to his former Red Sox teammate Jason Varitek, and deliver a message to his fans. 

“I want to thank God for giving me a second opportunity in my life to be here with all of you,” Ortiz said to the crowd, per ESPN. “I want to thank the Red Sox, my real family. They always have been there for me, supporting me. … They were the first ones there supporting me.”

“I want to thank you for all for your prayers, all of them came home,” Ortiz continued.

When he threw the pitch, his fans went wild.

Former Red Sox legend David Ortiz threw the first pitch Monday night at Boston’s Fenway Park in a game against the Yankees, marking his first public appearance since he was shot in the Dominican Republic in June.

The pitch, tossed to team captain Jason Varitek, prompted fans to go understandably wild. 

Ortiz also thanked his former teammates as well as the Yankees. 

“A lot of my boys over there came to check on Big Papi; I appreciate it,” he said, likely referencing Yankee players and fellow Dominicans Gary Sánchez and Edwin Encarnación, who visited Ortiz at his home last week.

All of Boston wanted Big Papi to know that they were there for him.

The Red Sox introduced Ortiz as a symbol of “resilience, strength, triumph and love,” and those words couldn’t be more true of someone who was able to experience a special day like today after fighting for his life with his family, country, and “fuckin’ city” all behind him.

Fans reacted on Twitter with absolute joy.

Fans from New York to Boston reveled in their excitement across social media. People were genuinely shocked to see David Ortiz on the field at Fenway Park throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

It was the sign that so many were waiting for: to know that Big Papi was on the road to recovery.

Even those who ‘detest’ the Red Sox took to Twitter to wish Big Papi well.

In a sign that Big Papi has fans all around the world, even those who claim to hate the Boston Red Sox took to social media to share in the excitement that one of baseball’s greats was back in the game.

David Ortiz had been recovering from a shooting in his native Dominican Republic.

Ortiz had been shot in the back at a bar while visiting his home country. Following the incident, doctors removed his gallbladder and a portion of his intestine, The Associated Press reported. He also sustained liver damage.

The player underwent three surgeries total after experiencing complications from the gunshot wounds, according to his wife, Tiffany Ortiz. In July, he was released from the hospital and started rehabilitation at home, according to the Red Sox. 

The attorney general of the Dominican Republic, Jean Alain Rodriguez, claimed the intended target of the shooting was the person Ortiz was seated next to, Sixto David Fernández.