Muder: Ozzie Virgil paved the way for Dominican stars of today

From SABR member Craig Muder at on September 23, 2017:

Of all the legends in baseball history, very few can say they changed the landscape of the game. But after Ozzie Virgil Sr. debuted for the New York Giants on Sept. 23, 1956, baseball moved into a different era.

Virgil, born in Monte Cristi of the Dominican Republic, became the first native Dominican to play in a big league game on that day. He set the stage for a wave of stars that followed, including Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez. In fact, baseball is now such a huge industry in the Dominican that Virgil’s impact on the economy of his homeland is probably incalculable.

Virgil, who immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of 13 and grew up in the Bronx, signed with the Giants prior to the 1953 season after serving in the Marines. A natural third baseman who became a valuable utility player for the Giants, Tigers, Athletics, Orioles and Pirates over nine seasons, Virgil even taught himself how to catch to make himself more valuable.

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Originally published: September 25, 2017. Last Updated: September 25, 2017.