History of LSWBA
The LSWBA was founded in 2004 to respond to growing concerns among Spanish-speaking sports journalists and broadcasters that they felt they were not receiving due respect for their work from teams, or Major League Baseball.
The lack of understanding for the growing Latino community of the teams and MLB was highlighted on two occasions that led to the formation of the association. One of them was in the first major league game played in Puerto Rico on April 1, 2001. The game between the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners was the first regular season game to be played in Puerto Rico and outside of the United States. Press from all the major news and sports agencies and from many of the Spanish-speaking countries, the Caribbean, and Latin America were strongly represented in San Juan for this historic game that took place at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
Before the game, MLB held a press conference with key Latino players from both teams. The first press conference was with Alex Rodríguez representing the Mariners and Iván Rodríguez for the Rangers.
A major outburst erupted when a reporter asked Alex a question in Spanish and the moderator responded by Alex stating that the press conference was in English and there were no questions in Spanish. Most of the Spanish-speaking reporters present started shouting comments like “This is Puerto Rico”, “why can’t we ask questions in Spanish?” Some started directing their question in Spanish to Iván Rodríguez, who had no problems to answer in Spanish. That incident was one that clearly demonstrated the callousness that MLB had towards the Latino community.
Things continued with journalists complaining with other concerns such as the request for credentials, access to players, or team personnel, etc. and in 2004 again the insensitivity and lack of respect towards the Latin press showed its head.
The second major insult and a clear sign of callousness came in 2004 when Alex Rodriguez was traded to New York and the Yankees held a major press conference at Yankee Stadium to introduce Alex to the New York City press. It was an exclusive circus for Alex. When the press conference began, and the formal presentations were made the room was open for questions. The third question was from a reporter for one of the main Spanish networks, Univision, or Telemundo.
Unfortunately, the reporter didn’t even finish his question. As soon as the reporter started his question in Spanish, he was cut off by Yankees media director Rick Cerrone, who took the podium, took the microphone, and told the reporter that they would like to hold all questions in Spanish until the end of the press conference. Unfortunately, that never happened.
That did not sit well with many of the local Latino press who were visibly upset. After the press conference while the Yankees began taking Alex to different news agencies to do his exclusive interviews with the YES Network, ESPN, etc. many Latino reporters were again annoyed when there was no one-on-one special with Alex and the Latino press.
Latino Sports president Julio Pabón was present and when he heard many Latino reporters complaining to themselves, he urged that instead of complaining, Latino journalists organize. Many agreed. Julio organized a meeting in the conference room of Diario La Prensa in Manhattan where members from all the Hispanic radio stations and newspapers in the city came. A representative of Rainbow PUSH, the Afro-American activist organization led by Jesse Jackson, also attended, and thus the LSWBA was born.
Today the association is the main vehicle for selecting the winners of the most prestigious award given to a Latino player, the LatinoMVP.
There have been several conversations about “a partnership” among Hispanic sports journalists. We know that a little more unity is needed among the growing members of the Latino press. Baseball, being the sport with the most Latinos, is where there is more Latino press but there are still concerns as to concerns regarding the treatment and understanding of our role in covering sports and that is why organization and unity are always needed.
The LSWBA is not of one race, but we have “Latino” members, some born in a Latin American country and others born and raised here in the USA who are more fluent in English.
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