Baseball invites Immigrants to Dominate

By Karlee Dies

Comedian Trevor Noah talks Sports in America

The crowd is cheering. The aroma of hot dogs, popcorn and excitement fill the area. The teams are playing their heart out. Memories are being made. Some of the greatest memories come from sports. American sports are known for great fans, great games, and great athletes.

Since World War II, sports have become increasingly internationalized having many of the world’s best hockey, basketball, baseball and track athletes come to North America.

Modern transportation and communication have allowed players the opportunity to show off their talents and get opportunities they may not have had otherwise.

Baseball was one of the most popular sports in America prior to WWII and had immigrants. It was a time where if you had the real talent to become successful, it could potentially happen for you.

By the 19th century, a large percent of U.S. baseball players were Irish and German. In the 1890’s, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe came to the U.S. bringing baseball players from all over the world.

Between 1900 and 1940, several foreign-born men were playing in the major leagues from places like Germany, Ireland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, England, Cuba and more. Some were even second-generation immigrants like Joe DiMaggio, born to Italian Immigrants, and Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in major league baseball.

How some Cuban Players make it to Major League Baseball

By 1990, 13 percent of major leaguers were Hispanic, and by 1997, the figure had jumped to 24 percent. In 2002, 230 of 827 players on opening day major league rosters were born outside the 50 states: 79 from the Dominican Republic; 38 from Puerto Rico; 37 from Venezuela; 17 from Mexico; 11 from Japan; 10 from both Canada and Cuba; seven from Panama; six from South Korea; three from both Australia and Colombia; two each from Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and Nicaragua; and one each from England, Germany, and Vietnam.

Baseball’s immigrants pursuing American Dream

According to a February 4, 2002, commissioner’s report, 42 percent of all professional baseball players came from outside the United States; more than three-fourths of those were from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Of the 3,066 foreign-born professional players, 1,630 (53 percent) were from the Dominican Republic and 744 (24 percent) were from Venezuela; 165 (5 percent) from Puerto Rico; 114 (4 percent) from Mexico; 26 were from Cuba, with half on major league rosters.

Foreigners excel in US baseball

In the MLB, the Detroit Tigers are a time that has benefited from international players. The team has won four consecutive division titles and more regular season games since 2011 with the help of three key players.

In the Minor league Western Division, the team in Erie, the Erie Seawolves, was founded in 1989 and is currently a Double- A affiliate with the Detroit Tigers since 2001.

The Seawolves first game took place in 1995 in which Dominican Republic native Jose Guillen, now a MLB alumni, hit the game-winning homerun for the team.

The team’s current owner, Fernando Aguirre, is a native of Mexico who obtained a baseball scholarship at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville of which he graduated with a business degree in 1980. Among many successes and awards, a big one was the naturalization of himself and his family in 2009.

Seawolves players, past and present, have come from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Curacao, Puerto Rico, and United States.

“A handful of the players are from Latin America. Most baseball players, particularly when they are in the minor league system, most of them work with visas. Most of them do not apply for green cards. Most of them do not go through that,” said Aguirre.

He added that, “By and large most of them come up to play baseball and just don’t make to the major leagues. A majority that come to play baseball don’t make it to the major leagues and so the years of playing and trying to make it in the U.S. and then they go back home. “

Lendy Castillo from Dominican Republic, Anthony Fernandez from Dominican Republic, Confesor Lara from Dominican Republic, Harold Castro from Venezuela, Alberto Gonzalez from Venezuela, Gustavo Nunez from Dominican Republic, are some of the players on the 2016 roster from different countries.

Alberto Gonzalez Ground-Rule Double

Clearly immigration is a big part of the sports world. It helped make the teams who they are today. It expanded not only the talent but the population making the competition even more intense than if it were only Americans. They create not only personal diversity but diversity in the athletic ability of the game. Without immigration, it would be increasingly difficult for national sports teams to maintain their teams and exist.

David Berri, an economics professor at Southern Utah University wrote an article arguing that immigration is a huge part of American sports. He said, “The search for talent can’t be confined to the borders of a single nation,” adding that, “Firms in the United States compete in a global marketplace. The success of these firms…depends on the talent these firms can employ. If you wish you employ the best talent, your talent search must be global. And that mean your borders have to be open.”

Sports are a huge part of the American lifestyle. It brings people together on a common interest.

Take a look at your favorite sports teams. Some of the players are most likely immigrants. Think about the journey they have been on to make this dream their reality.

They truly followed their American Dream.

Sports, a common ground for all.


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