In honor of the start of the 2016 baseball season, Cafe Con Leche's Creative Planning Strategist, Marissa Rayes, delves into understanding the connection between baseball and Latinos. 

Baseball arrived in Latin America through Cuba, who was introduced to baseball in 1868 by Nemesio and Ernesto Guilló. The men learned about baseball from studying abroad in the United States, they fell in love with the game and brought it back to their home country. From Cuba, baseball spread to Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in 1895. 

It was not until the early 1900's that Latin American players, mainly Cuban, began to be signed to MLB teams. Most notably, Cuban player Adolfo Luque was signed by the Cincinnati Reds. However, Luque was one of the only Latino’s who had a lucky break through the next couple decades of baseball. It was hard for Latinos to flourish in the MLB because the league remained segregated.

Starting in the 1930s things began to change, teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs started signing more Latino players. In 1934 the St. Louis Cardinals employed the first Latino manager of the MLB, Miguel Angel Gonzalez. During World War II more Latino players were signed to the MLB because so many non-Latino players were being drafted into the military. Clubs looked to Latin countries to fill up their rosters with talent.

In the 1940s the first Latinos were named to the All Star team, Minnie Miñoso and Alfonso Carrasquel. This was a period of time when many of the greatest Latino baseball players of all times began to play - Louis Aparicio, Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and of course Minnie and Alfonso too.

Baseball remains a strong tradition in the Spanish speaking Caribbean and some Latin American countries, such as Venezuela. Latino players make up over 26% of MLB baseball players, mainly from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. They are not only dominating the game in numbers, but also in skill. One-third of All-Star players and over half of the best batting averages are held by Latino players. For Americans, much of what they have come to learn about Latin America comes from being fans of baseball. Latinos proudly hold their accomplishments in baseball as a part of the American Dream. 

Show us your 21!

In partnership with VisitPITTSBURGH, Cafe Con Leche is hosting an Instagram contest! Head on over to Instagram and show us your Clemente Pittsburgh Pride! Share YOUR "21" with us, and make sure to include both of the hashtags #LovePGH and #Latinoburgh on your post and you'll be entered to win a Clemente Prize Pack! Contest runs until 4/10/16 - a winner will be chosen at random on 4/11/16!

Learn more about Roberto Clemente by reading our blog on VisitPITTSBURGH's website, click here.

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