Survey: The Best Foreign-Born Players

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in the 1974 Baseball Research Journal


There have been more than 100 persons voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their playing ability and not one was born in a foreign country. It is true that Harry Wright was born in England, but he was selected as a baseball pioneer and manager. In 1973, Roberto Clemente of Puerto Rico was the first player elected to the Hall of Fame from outside of the continental U.S.

Yet there have been more than 450 players who were born in foreign countries, and some of them made outstanding contributions to what has been called the “National Game”. They were included among the waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Great Britain. Canada, because of its proximity, continued to supply manpower throughout the history of major league baseball. Cuba and other Latin American nations were particularly strong after World War II. It might be appropriate at this point to designate the point of origin of all the foreign-born players through 1973, and also those born in U.S. possessions.

 

Australia

1

Cuba

115

Mexico

27

Austria

1

Czech

4

Norway

3

Bahamas

4

Denmark

1

Okinawa

1

Canada

125

Dom. Rep.

32

Panama

21

Alberta

4

Gr. Britain

26

Poland

2

Br. Columbia

4

England

20

Russia

3

Manitoba

3

Scotland

4

Sweden

2

New Brunswick

10

Wales

2

Switzerland

1

Nova Scotia

6

Finland

1

Venezuela

22

Ontario

73

France

2

 

455

Prince Ed. Is.

2

Germany

18

 

 

Quebec

16

Greece

1

Puerto Rico

60

Saskatchewan

6

Holland

1

Virgin Is.

6

(not known)

1

Hungary

1

Am. Samoa

1

Canary Isle.

1

Ireland

30

Alaska

1

China

1

Italy

5

Hawaii

7

Colombia

1

Japan

1

 

75

 

In the last few months the Society for American Baseball Research conducted a survey of its membership to determine who were the outstanding players born in selected foreign countries. Some countries were not included in the survey because there would be no basis for a contest. For example, the records would show that these were the outstanding players born in these countries:

  • Australia – Joe Quinn
  • Bahamas – Andre Rodgers
  • Czech.- Elmer Valo
  • Germany – Willie Kuehne
  • Holland – Bert, Blyleven
  • Italy – Reno Bertoia
  • Norway – John Anderson
  • Poland – Moe Drabowsky
  • Switz. – Otto Hess

We did take a vote on the best players born in certain other geographic areas, including U.S. possessions.

These were the results based on 63 ballots which were at least partially filled out:

 

Ireland

 

Canada

 

Mexico

 

Tony Mullane

20½

Ferg. Jenkins

38½

Bobby Avila

55

Pat Donovan

13½

Tip O’Neill

9

Aur.Rodriguez

2

Jack Doyle

8

Jeff Heath

7

Ruben Amaro

1

Jim Archer

6

George Gibson

2

   

Tommy Bond

6

P. Marchildon

1

   
   

George Selkirk

½

   
           

Great Britain

 

Cuba

 

Panama

 

Bobby Thomson

28

Tony Oliva

26½

Rod Carew

48

Jim McCormick

18

Minnie Minoso

18

N. Sanguillen

10

Jonny Austin

10

Dolf Luque

Hector Lopez

1

Tom T. Brown

2

Tony Perez

3

   

Dave Brain

1

B. Campaneris

1

   
   

Camilo Pascual

1

   
   

Mike Cuellar

1

   
           

Dom. Republic

 

Venezuela

 

Puerto Rico

 

Juan Marichal

53

Luis Aparicio

60

Rob Clemente

56½

Felipe Alou

2

   

Orlando Cepeda

Rico Carty

2

       

Cesar Cedeno

2

   

Virgin Islands

 
       

Horace Clarke

33

       

Alvin McBean

11

       

El. Hendricks

7

 

As can be seen, Bobby Thomson rode his famous playoff home run into the top mark for Great Britain. He beat out oldtime 200-game winner Jim McCormick, who was also born in Scotland (rather than New Jersey as some old sources indicated). Austin was tops from Wales and Tom Brown, one of the great base runners, was first for England. Luis Aparicio was a unanimous choice from Venezuela, with Chico Carrasque1, Vic Davalillo, and Cesar Tovar not getting a nibble. Ferguson Jenkins was another modern who dominated the oldtimers, such as Tip O’Neill, one of the great stars of the old American Association.

In the final part of the. survey we asked who was the one outstanding player born in a foreign country. Voters were asked not to include Puerto Rico and the Virgin Isles in this compilation because they are U.S. possessions. There were indications from the marginal notes on the ballots that voters wanted to insert the name of Roberto Clemente. In fact, six voters voided that part of their ballot by writing in his name. Not counting those half dozen votes, here is how that contest turned out:

 

Juan Marichal, Dom. Rep.

19.3

 

Tony Oliva, Cuba

2

Luis Aparicio, Venezuela

18

 

Rod Carew, Panama

1.3

Tony Mullane, Ireland

5

 

Elmer Valo, Czech.

1

Dolf Luque, Cuba

3

 

Jack Doyle, Ireland

1

Minnie Minoso, Cuba

3

 

Felipe Alou, D. Rep.

1

Ferguson Jenkins, Canada

3

 

Bert Campaneris, Cuba

1

     

Jim McCormick, G.B.

0.3

One of the voters had trouble selecting one all-time leader and divided his vote between Marichal, Carew, and McCormick. This pointed up the fact that voters had some problem selecting between pitchers and regular players, and moderns and oldtimers. It is interesting to note that the two players who captured most of the votes — Juan Marichal and Luis Aparicio — are now teammates on the Boston Red Sox.

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