Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is at the forefront when looking at Latinos in American Sports. Traditionally, it is the "bread and butter" of youths who seek to leave poverty-striken and destitute areas in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. It is common for Major League Baseball teams to employ officials who serve as liasions between teams and prospects in Latin America. Prospects often deal with unofficial agents called buscones in order to land a contract with big league teams. (6)
During the 1960s, Latino baseball players started to make their presense known. Two of the following players dominated the competition.
Often thought of as the greatest Latino baseball player of all time, Clemente is considered a hero to the Latino community for his humanitarian efforts, which unfortunately led to his death in 1972. Clemente played rightfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972, winning 2 World Series titles (1960, 1971), 12 Gold Glove awards and the 1966 National League MVP. Even though his achievements were spectacular, Clemente was often overlooked by the media due to his Latino heritage. His numbers during the 1960s were comparable to elite players such as Detroit Tigers right fielder Al Kaline, New York Yankees centerfielder Mickey Mantle, et al.
Clemente's passion for helping out his fellow Latino brothers and sisters led to his unfortunate death. On December 31 st , 1972 , Clemente led an effort to give assistance and supplies to Nicaragua after the country suffered a massive earthquake. Clemente displayed his personal attachment to fellow Latinos as he decided to personally fly to Nicaragua and deliver aid. His DC-7 plane crashed in the Caribbean Sea , killing all five people aboard.
"Thousands of citizens in Puerto Rico's capital city poured onto the beach shortly after dawn as word of the crash spread; the city maintained a vigil which lasted for days, until all hope of finding their hero has been lost." (3) Clemente's legacy is one of character, class, and integrity.
Roberto Clemente became the first Latino inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. The traditional five year waiting period was waived. That year, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente Award. The award is given to the player who most exemplifies Clemente's humanitarianism and sportsmanship. Clemente's legacy will always be remembered as nothing short of greatness.
With his unique high-kick delivery, San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal became one of the most dominant pitchers during the 1960s. The Dominican Republic native was a 9 time all-star with Giants posting six 20 win seasons and a no-hitter in 1963. Marichal gained notoriety for his ability to throw numerous pitches with different deliveries, often near the batter's head—in order to gain a psychological advantage.
In 1963, Marichal and Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn dueled for 16 straight innings as the Giants won 1-0 on a Willie Mays home run. The battle between the up-and-coming Marichal and the worn-down, forty-two year old Spahn was a symbolic changing of the guard. The match-up and result between Marichal and Spahn showcased the undeniable Latino presence in baseball. (7)
In a regrettable incident, Marichal was involved in a bench-clearing brawl in which he swung a bat at a helmet-less Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro. This clash accompanied Marichal long after he retired in 1975 after spending his last two years with the Boston Red Sox and the Dodgers, respectively. Marichal was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.