Saturday, December 9 2023

This is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

It had been 32 years since a player from the Dominican Republic had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Pedro Martínez made sure to represent.

After completing his 2015 induction speech, the three-time Cy Young Award winner unfurled a Dominican flag and invited Juan Marichal – the last Dominican inductee from 1983 – to join him on the stage in Cooperstown, New York, to the raucous approval of the “home” crowd.

“When the Dominicans are inducted, my Lord, it is a festive time,” said José de Jesus Ortiz, who was the first and only Latino president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 2015. “Our gente (people) take over the town and you sense the pride. …

“It’s like Cooperstown becomes Little Santo Domingo, man. It is beautiful to see.”

Such turnouts have become more common in recent years.

Since 2011, the number of Latinos in the Hall of Fame has almost doubled with almost as many (nine) entering the Hall as were inducted in the previous 38 years (10).

“I really do believe that it’s just a product of there are more Latinos worthy of being inducted in the Hall of Fame,” said Ortiz, who also founded Our Esquina website.

“Think of the only player to be a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame is a Panamanian (Mariano Rivera). Pudge Rodríguez, David Ortiz, first-ballot guys. I think the great third baseman Adrián Beltré, he’s going to get in first ballot. There just is a greater number,” he added.

“If you look at just the gap between Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez, and then Pedro Martínez, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, boom, boom, boom. Our contribution as a gente to baseball is being recognized in Cooperstown, New York.”

Hall of Fame Inductee Pedro Martinez (left) and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal hold up the Dominican Republic flat at the end of Martinez's acceptance speech during the 2015 induction ceremonies.Hall of Fame Inductee Pedro Martinez (left) and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal hold up the Dominican Republic flat at the end of Martinez's acceptance speech during the 2015 induction ceremonies.

19 of the 342 Baseball Hall of Fame members are Latino

Despite the recent increase in Latino inductees, it’s striking that only 19 (5.5%) of the 342 Hall of Famers are Latino, compared to Latino representation on the field today: 285 of the 945 players (30.2%) on 2023 opening day rosters were Latino/Hispanic.

Since Roberto Clemente became the first Latino inducted in 1973 in a special election − the mandatory five-year waiting period was waved after Clemente died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 − half of the 10 inductees through 2006 were elected by either Negro Leagues or Veterans committees.

Only Rod Carew was elected by the BBWAA on a standard first ballot.

Clemente “became the standard by which, I argue, that basically all Afro-Latinos and most Latino players, period, were judged,” said Adrian Burgos, a University of Illinois history professor who was a member of the 2006 Negro Leagues Committee and the 2022 Golden Days Era Committee. “And in particular, this affected how people thought about (Orestes “Minnie”) Miñoso. People would say, ‘Did Miñoso speak out against racisms the same way that Clemente did?’ … I think in the minds of voters, both writers and afterwards, Clemente, after he’s elected, people kind of used him as a standard.”

That was a high standard for Latinos who played in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to live up to, as evidenced by BBWAA ballot results for some of the top Latino players of that era.

  • Miñoso, a 13-time All-Star: Never surpassed 21.1% in 15 years on the ballot (75% needed for induction).

  • Eight-time All-Star Tony Oliva: No higher than 47.3% of votes in 15 years on the ballot.

  • 229-game winner Luis Tiant: No higher 30.9% 15 years on the ballot.

  • Nine-time All-Star shortstop Dave Concepción: No higher than 16.9% in 15 years on the ballot.

  • Six-time All-Star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela: 6.2% and 3.8% in his only two years on the ballot.

  • 245-game winner Dennis Martínez: 3.2% in his only appearance on the ballot.

Other multiple-time All-Stars such as Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana (two Cy Young Awards), Andrés Galarraga, Mike Cuellar and Pedro Guerrero also only appeared on one Hall of Fame ballot before being dropped because they received too few votes.

But since 2011, seven of the nine inductees have been elected by the writers – four on the first ballot and two on the second, with Edgar Martínez earning induction on his 10th appearance. Oliva and Miñoso were elected by the 2022 Golden Days Era Committee.

“Let’s just flash back to 1970. Baseball writers were used to Latinos being anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of major league players, and even then they’re probably only recognizing the top players,” Burgos said. “Sportswriters today who have been working the beat the last 20 years, they’re used to Latinos being between 25 and 33 percent. They’re much more aware of the presence of Latinos and they’re better able, I would say, to note the leadership of a Yadier Molina. They can see it. Whereas those things were often missed a generation ago.”

Hall of Fame committees include perspective of Latino voters

Burgos points to the importance of the restructured Hall of Fame committees in reevaluating players who may have been passed over in the final decades of the 20th century.

From 2001 to 2007, the electorate for the Committee on Baseball Veterans was comprised of the living members of the Hall of Fame, living recipients of what was then called the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, living recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award and Veterans Committee members whose terms had not yet expired.

Since then, the electorate has been made of panels of Hall of Famers, executives, media members and historians, including more Latino perspectives on various committees.

“Certainly as the game continues to grow with more and more Latino players and therefore more and more Latino players on the ballot, having those who can help speak to their backgrounds on that committee is important,” said Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch. “We would never want someone’s heritage to impact them getting in one way or another. Ultimately, we don’t want it to be because they came from another place that they got in either. It should just come down to the merit, but having various perspectives in the room is pretty important.”

The 2022 Golden Days Era Committee included four Latinos – Carew, Burgos, former Detroit Tigers vice president and GM Al Avila and legendary former Los Angeles Dodgers Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrín – among its 16 members.

Burgos said having those voices in the room “address(es) kind of the historical past but also the experiential dimension of Latinos and other groups who are part of baseball. We should understand where they’re coming from.”

Future Hall of Fame ballots include multiple Latino stars

The next committee that will consider former players – the Classic Baseball Era (prior to 1980) – is set to meet in December 2024 for inclusion in the Class of 2025.

BBWAA ballots for the Class of 2024 are due December 31. The candidates on that ballot include holdovers Carlos Beltrán, Alex Rodríguez, Manny Ramírez, Omar Vizquel, Bobby Abreu and Francisco Rodríguez, along with first-time candidates Beltré, José Bautista, Bartolo Colon, Adrián González, Victor Martínez and José Reyes.

With future BBWAA ballots set to include multiple Latino candidates, Latino representation should continue to grow. First-time candidate Félix Hernández will be on the 2025 ballot. The 2028 ballot will have first-time candidates Molina and Albert Pujols. And Miguel Cabrera, who retired at the end of the regular season, will be on the 2029 ballot.

“I’d hate to predict; that’s one of the things we try really hard not to do,” Rawitch said, “but I would certainly think that given the level of superstar Latino players we’re seeing in the game and have been seeing grow over the last couple of decades, I would imagine that you would see that reflected in those that get elected. Certainly, I think we want to be reflective of the game we represent.”

José de Jesus Ortiz, who has been a Hall of Fame voter since 2006, believes the percentage of Latinos in the Hall eventually “will be equal to their numbers in the game. …

“I can tell you over the next few years who’s coming up next: Miguel Cabrera, Hall of Famer; Albert Pujols, Hall of Famer. And we’re not even talking about there would be more Latinos in the Hall of Fame now had the steroid-era links not derailed a Cuban (Rafael Palmeiro), not derailed at least one Dominican (Ramírez).”

PED links likely keep some top Latino players out of Hall of Fame

Multiple high-profile players with Hall of Fame credentials – Palmeiro, Ramírez, A-Rod, Sammy Sosa, among others – have been linked to PEDs through positive tests, the 2013 Biogenesis scandal, the 2007 Mitchell Report or news reports.

If past elections are any indication – Palmeiro never got more than 12.6% of the writers’ votes; A-Rod got 35.7% and Ramírez got 33.2% last year; and Sosa only received 18.5% on the 2022 ballot, his final time on the ballot – Latinos linked to PEDs won’t get much considerations from the writers in the future.

“The wrinkle in all of this is the lingering reality of a lot of the PED-era players who are not getting support and will not get support, but guys who are otherwise eminently eligible and likely to have been elected,” Burgos said. “We’re talking Palmeiro, Sosa, those guys who are going to have to buy a ticket to Cooperstown for a while, and I don’t know if they will ever garner the support to get in.”

Who are the Latino players in the Baseball Hall of Fame?




How they were elected


Roberto Clemente

Puerto Rico

BBWAA special election


Martín Dihigo


Negro Leagues Committee


Juan Marichal

Dominican Republic

BBWAA vote (third ballot)


Luis Aparicio


BBWAA vote (sixth ballot)


Rod Carew


BBWAA vote (first ballot)


Orlando Cepeda

Puerto Rico

Veterans Committee


Tony Pérez


BBWAA vote (ninth ballot)


José Méndez


Negro Leagues Committee


Cristóbal Torriente


Negro Leagues Committee


Alex Pompez

United States

Negro Leagues Committee


Roberto Alomar

Puerto Rico

BBWAA vote (second ballot)


Pedro Martínez

Dominican Republic

BBWAA vote (first ballot)


Iván Rodríguez

Puerto Rico

BBWAA vote (first ballot)


Vladimir Guerrero

Dominican Republic

BBWAA vote (second ballot)


Mariano Rivera


BBWAA vote (first ballot)*


Edgar Martínez

United States

BBWAA vote (10th ballot)


David Ortiz

Dominican Republic

BBWAA vote (first ballot)


Tony Oliva


Golden Days Era Committee


Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso


Golden Days Era Committee

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Baseball Hall of Fame Latino representation climbing, will keep rising

Source: Yahoo Sports


Twins one win away from taking first playoff series in 21 years


Chicago Bulls' Lonzo Ball: 'I definitely plan on playing again'

Check Also