1990s AND NOW






AC 213 Website


The Early Years

Latino Introduction through the 1920s


Baseball was first introduced to Latin America by Nemesio and Ernesto Guilló in 1864 in Cuba with the foundation of the Habana Baseball Club (1). Other Latino countries quickly picked up the game, with Mexico being introduced to it in 1882, Nicaragua in 1888, and Venezuela starting its own league in 1895. Esteban Enrique Bellán of Cuba became the first Latino player to play for a professional team when he played for the Troy Haymakers and the New York Mutuals of the National Association (2). Though Bellán was the first Latino player, it wasn't until 1911 that Latinos began receiving notoriety. The first two Latinos to play in what is now Major League Baseball were Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans, who both joined the Cincinnati Reds of the National League in 1911 (3).

The first "star" Latino baseball player was Adolfo Luque, who won 27 games for the Cincinatti Reds in 1923 and played for 20 years from the late 1910s through the 1930s. Though Luque achieved success, most Latino players of this time were not so lucky, having brief and undistinguishable careers in the late 1910s and 1920s.


Adolfo "Dolf" Luque

At this period in time, the United States was still largely segregated and Major League Baseball was an all-white association. As such, only light-skinned Latino players were allowed admission into the Major Leagues, while black Latino players could only play in the Negro Leagues. Latino players made their mark on the Negro Leagues, however, with many teams being comprised solely of Latino players, such as the Cuban Stars, a charter member of the Negro Leagues in 1920 (4). In fact, one of the first Latino players to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame never played a game in Major League Baseball, but excelled in Negro League play. Martín Dihigo played every position but catcher in Cuba, Mexico, and the Negro Leagues from the 1920s through the 1940s and was the first baseball player to belong to three separate halls of fame (Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame, Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame, and National Baseball Hall of Fame) (5).

Unlike later generations, most players in the early 20th century were Cuban. This was largely due to the U.S. occupation of the island from 1906 to 1909. During these three years, baseball's presence on the island greatly expanded, with many Negro League and Major League teams coming to Cuba to play exhibition games. Players from other Latino areas would not enter the Major Leagues in great numbers until at least the 1940s.