Miguel Batista, Vicente Padilla, Kiko Calero, Alex Cintron and Ubaldo Jimenez
When you think about baseball, you know it is America's pastime. However, close to 30% of all of today's Major Leaguers come from Latin countries. The greatest number of those players come from the Dominican Republic, followed by Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The rest hail from Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Columbia. History documents that the first Latino ball player to make it to the big leagues was an infielder named Luis Castro, who made his debut in 1902 with the Philadelphia Athletics. Latinos' tremendous history in baseball was evident at the Third Annual Latino Future Magazine Beisbol Awards Festival, held recently at the Phoenix Art Museum. Photos at the museum were prominently displayed of this rich baseball history.
Included in the fabulous photo-montage were notable ballplayers such as Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Minnie Minoso, Luis Tiant, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez, Reggie Jackson, Roy Campanella and Luis Gonzalez. Also part of this rich history of Latino greats was a photo of Hall of Fame Outfielder Ted Williams. The "Splendid Splinter" of the Boston Red Sox had maternal grandparents named Natalia Hernandez and Pablo Venzor. The family was Basque in origin and had settled around Hidalgo del Parral and Valle de Allende in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Latino Players and Management were honored at this event. The 2008 Leyenda Award Recipient was Cuban born Chicago White Sox Outfielder Minnie Minoso. Minoso is the only player to have played professionally in seven different decades in Baseball. [Ed: He's one of only two people to have played in five decades in the majors, from the 40's to the 80's, and made brief appearances for the independent St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003] Other honorees included the first Latino to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Late Roberto Clemente, whose award was accepted by his widow Vera Clemente. Fellow Hall of Fame inductee and Puerto Rican, known as the "Baby Bull," Orlando Cepeda, who had a stellar baseball career with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
Minnie Minoso, then and now
Awards also were given to 2007 National League Champion Colorado Rockies Co-Owner Linda Alvarado and Latino Future Magazine Awards Co-Chairman, former Diamondbacks and current Seattle Mariners Pitcher as well as being an accomplished author, Miguel Batista. Special guests on hand to sign autographs and mingle with the fans were Chicago Cubs infielder Alex Cintron, Colorado Rockies rookie pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Texas Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla, and Oakland A's pitcher Kiko Calero.
With spring training in full swing in the Cactus League, what a tremendous outlet for fans from all over the country to see some of today's brightest Latino stars and also baseball royalty from yesteryear. Although Latino heritage in baseball was the main theme, the literary skills of Honorary Chairman, Mariners Pitcher and author Miguel Batista, could not be overlooked. Aside from being a baseball player, Batista is known for his love of poetry and philosophy. He has also written a book of poetry in Spanish titled Sentimentos en Blanco y Negro ("Feelings in Black and White"). He also published a thriller about a serial killer titled "Avenger of Blood."
Manny Molina, Founder of Latino Future Magazine and son Matt Molina who is the publisher hosted the evenings festivities saluting baseball's best of Latino heritage. Also on hand to handle the Master of Ceremonies duty was the Spanish Voice of the Arizona Diamondbacks Miguel Quintana. Baseball's Ambassador Vera Clemente was class personified as she spoke so eloquently on behalf of her late husband Roberto. She shared her husband's legacy with his passion not only for the game of baseball, but of his humanitarian efforts to make a difference in community of Carolina, Puerto Rico and the completion of his dream, with the building of the Roberto Clemente Sports City, which teaches youth all aspects of sports in soccer, basketball, swimming, volleyball and tennis.
Minnie Minoso, who played seventeen years in the majors, had some of his greatest accomplishments after the age of thirty. He is the second oldest player behind the great Satchel Paige to appear in a Major League game, and the oldest ever to bat. The 83-year old Minoso, nicknamed "The Cuban Comet" and "Mr. White Sox" was quite a popular choice with the fans in attendance at the awards festival. He thanked everyone for coming out and joining in the celebration of Latinos in baseball, and quickly exclaimed, "Beisbol has been very, very good to me."
Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto, with Miguel Batista
As baseball prepares to go into another year, let's get ready for opening day and a great baseball season, no matter what language - but for now, take me out to the ball game, Latino style:
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd.
Sáqueme al partido, sáque, me con la muchedumbre.
Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks
Cómpreme algunos cacahuetes y Crackerjacks,
I don't care if I ever get back.
No me preocupo si alguna vez regreso.
For it's root, root, root for the home team.
Ya que esto es la raíz, la raíz, anime el equipo de casa,
If they don't win it's a shame.
Si ellos no ganan esto es una vergüenza,
For it's 1-2-3 strikes you're out, in the old ballgame.
Ya que esto es 1-2-3 huelgas que usted es en viejo ballgame.
Contributed by Ray Martinez
Ray Martinez aka Ray Mar has been actively involved as a professional Disc Jockey for over 30 years, as well as a celebrity interviewer and writer for a variety of broadcast stations and outlets in California. He is also an author of two books titled, Performance Beyond Expectation and Music from My Heart, a compilation of provocative opinion and thoughts of inspiration and motivation. In 2006, Ray Mar was inducted into the American Disc Jockey Hall of Fame at the 10th Annual Mobile Beat DJ Conference at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.