Cieradkowski: Chucho Ramos, a historic número dos

From SABR member Gary Cieradkoswki Jr. at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on May 25, 2017:

It’s the moment every ballplayer dreams of – when the rep from Hillerich & Bradsby sits down and guides you through the process of ordering your very own custom signature-model Louisville Slugger bats. This rite-of-passage dated back to the early 1900’s when Honus Wagner became the first pro ballplayer to have his own Louisville Slugger with his signature stamped into the barrel. Since then, the Kentucky bat maker had given everyone from Hank Aaron to Frankie Zak his own custom model. It’s as momentous a moment as when a rookie gets his own big league uniform, visual and physical proof that he had really “made it” as a ball player.
The spring day in 1944 must have been especially sweet for Jesus “Chucho” Ramos. His Louisville Slugger order not only marked his personal advancement to the major leagues, but also a historic moment for his native country: Ramos would be joining the Cincinnati Reds as the very first position player from Venezuela.
Students who studied abroad in America imported baseball to Venezuela in the 1890’s. The Amenodoro brothers formed the Caracas Baseball Club in 1895, and the game slowly spread from there. American engineering and oil companies also formed their own company teams, and in 1917 the Navegantes del Magallanes were formed. This club still exists today and is kind of the New York Yankees of Venezuela. When the country formed its first professional league, the Federación Venezolana de Béisbol in 1927, the Navegantes were among the first ball clubs to join. Because Venezuela was a considerable distance from the other Caribbean baseball hot spots like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Venezuelans had to play on those islands in order to advance their careers.

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Originally published: May 26, 2017. Last Updated: May 26, 2017.