Latinos have come a long way in Major League Baseball (MLB), I remember growing up in my Puerto Rican neighborhood in North Philadelphia, PA and idolizing the murals of the great Roberto Clemente. Not only was Clemente one of the best players of all time, he was a great human being who loved his Latino culture and wanted to see us, Latinos, succeed.
“Dad would be happy with all the progress we’ve made, but he would also make sure that the Latinos who have jobs in the Major Leagues would have a mission and think about the big picture,” said Luis Clemente, Roberto Clemente’s son. “He would want them to represent themselves well but also give back to the community. He was an activist for equality, and I know he would still defend the rights of people.”
Roberto Clemente, who played with the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1955-1972, was not only the first Puerto Rican but also the first Latin American player ever elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. On December 31, 1972, Clemente died in a plane crash at the age of 38 while delivering food and supplies to earthquake-torn Nicaragua.
Since then, the influence of Latinos has shaped not only baseball but also the nation. Latinos are 56% of the growing population in the United States (Census 2010) and we make up close 30% of players in the MLB. Latinos are not only covering the fields but are also growing presence in Major League’s front offices.
Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta is an activist in showing his Latino people that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in it.
He goes on by sharing “[When Latinos see you in a management position] they say, ‘Hey, it’s possible. Those guys did it, we can do it.’ It’s got to come from us. You work hard, and people will notice … regardless of where you come from.”
Acta currently has his own foundation helping children in the Ohio area and lives believes “To live life without positively impacting the lives of others is like not living at all.”
As the numbers of Latino players and retired players grow, the numbers of Latinos in the front offices and in management positions will also increase provided with the union of opportunity and skill.