Survey: Impact of Black and Latin Players

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in 1973 Baseball Research Journal

A quarter century has passed since Jackie Robinson broke the color line in major league baseball. His appearance in a Brooklyn Dodger lineup in 1947 and the outstanding performance which he gave also opened, the door wider for players from Latin America, who previously had never appeared in significant numbers. The Society for American Baseball Research felt that it should assess the contribution to major league baseball made by these two groups, who have broadened the horizons and added new dimensions to the national game since World War II.

A ballot was sent out to the SABR membership asking them to list the top players by positions since 1947 in three categories — North American Negro, Latin American, and North American White. Two pitchers would be selected with no reference to the way they threw, and the outfielders would be selected generally rather than by specific field. Then after the three separate teams are named, the voters should select a consolidated team of the best major league players since 1947. SABR members were asked not to vote for white stars who had played most of their games prior to 1947, even though they might have had some good seasons after that. This restriction was well observed, as there was only one vote cast for Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau.

Fifty-nine members of the Society responded to the survey. Many showed initiative in going beyond the sample names offered on the player ballot. Many juggled their line-ups to get the strongest possible team. This could be done with players like Ernie Banks and Stan Musial, because they have played enough games at two or more positions to compete legitimately at those posts. Logic apparently dictated that with the outfield so strong, why not use Musial at first base?  After all, he played more than 1000 games there.

Most of the selections on the individual teams were reasonably easy to make. Such players as Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, and Ted Williams were practically unanimous choices. Shortstop Luis Aparicio lost only one vote to Bert Campaneris on the Latin team, and Manny Sanguillen, even with his short period of play, still had no competition from fellow Latin catchers like Joe Azcue. One of the closest races was for the Latin 2B position, where two-time bat champ Rod Carew beat out one-time bat champ Bobby Avila 29 to 20.

As might be expected on the consolidated team, there were several close races. Pitchers Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Gibson almost finished in a dead heat, with the two southpaws getting the edge. Catcher was a three-way race with Berra, Campanella, and Bench finishing in that order. Ted Williams was on the most consolidated ballots, 47 out of 59. Stan Musial was on 46, either at first or in the outfield; Jackie Robinson was on 43, and Willie Mays 41½. There were a few split votes by some who couldn’t make up their minds, and this resulted in the ½ figure.

Here are the players selected for the various teams, with the votes for the leaders and chief contenders listed.


North American Negro

  • 1B: WILLIE McCOVEY 34, Ernie Banks 14, Dick Allen 6
  • 2B: JACKIE ROBINSON 54, Jim Gilliam 4
  • 3B: DICK ALLEN 33, Jim Gilliam 12, Maury Wills 10
  • SS: ERNIE BANKS 38, Maury Wills 21
  • OF: FRANK ROBINSON 47½, Billy Williams 12
  • P: BOB GIBSON 57
  • P: FERGIE JENKINS 48, Don Newcombe 10

Latin American

  • 1B: ORLANDO CEPEDA 54, Vic Power 3
  • 2B: ROD CAREW 29, Bobby Avila 20, Felix Millan 5
  • 3B: TONY PEREZ 51, Aurelio Rodriguez 8
  • OF: ROBERTO CLEMENTE 58, Rico Carty 4
  • OF: TONY OLIVA 50, Felipe Alou 6
  • OF: MINNIE MINOSO 46, Matty Alou 12
  • P: JUAN MARICHAL 57, Camilo Pascual 5
  • P: MIKE CUELLAR 43, Luis Tiant 11

North American White

  • 1B: STAN MUSIAL 33, Gil Hodges 14½, Harmon Killebrew 9½
  • 2B: NELLIE FOX 34, Bill Mazeroski 9½, Red Schoendienst 7
  • 3B: BROOKS ROBINSON 37, Eddie Mathews 17
  • SS: PEE WEE REESE 33, Phil Rizzuto 14, Dick Groat 4
  • OF: MICKEY MANTLE 48, Duke Snider 11
  • OF: AL KALINE 30½, Stan Musial 22
  • C: YOGI BERRA 42½, Johnny Bench 15½
  • P: WARREN SPAHN 43, Early Wynn 11½
  • P: SANDY KOUFAX 40½, Whitey Ford 13, Robin Roberts 6½

Consolidated Team

  • 1B: STAN MUSIAL 34, Gil Hodges 10, Harmon Killebrew 6
  • 2B: JACKIE ROBINSON 43, Nellie Fox 8, Red Schoendienst 3
  • 3B: BROOKS ROBINSON 36, Eddie Mathews 15
  • SS: LUIS APARICIO 29, Ernie Banks 19, Pee Wee Reese 5
  • OF: TED WILLIAMS 47, Mickey Mantle 11½
  • OF: WILLIE MAYS 41½, Stan Musial 12
  • OF: HANK AARON 37, Roberto Clemente 21
  • C: YOGI BERRA 26½, Roy Campanella 17, Johnny Bench 15
  • P: WARREN SPAHN 36, Bob Gibson 29, Whitey Ford 4½
  • P: SANDY KOUFAX 32½, Robin Roberts 5, Early Wynn 4

Note: In addition to the above totals for the individual ream members, there was a scattering of votes for other players. Receiving at least two votes were Bobby Richardson 6, Carl Yastrzemski 3½,  Alvin Dark 3, Pete Rose 2½, and Bill White, Tony Taylor, Cookie Rojas, Cesar Tovar, Ralph Kiner, and Ron Santo 2 each.