Thorn: Early Hispanic All-Stars in baseball

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on July 3, 2017:

On October 12, 1963, in a game slimly attended and little noted, Hispanic players from the National League squared off against their compatriots from the American League in what was dubbed the first Hispanic All-Star Game. Few of the men who gathered at the Polo Grounds in New York City — for what would turn out to be the last professional game played there — had ever made an All-Star Game squad … though many would, and four would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The paucity of available talent produced a definition of “Latin” American that extended to Al McBean and Joe Christopher, of the U.S. Virgin Islands and to — most preposterously — Joe Pignatano, an Italian whose last big-league game had taken place the year before.

But in 1963 players born in Latin America were still something of a novelty, their total population a tiny fraction of the African-American ranks in Major League Baseball. The pipeline from Cuba that had produced so many players in the 1950s had been shut off.

Only seven years before, in 1956, Ozzie Virgil had become the first player born in the Dominican Republic to reach the majors. At this writing, 684 have followed him.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 5, 2017. Last Updated: July 5, 2017.