SEATTLE, WA — If there was one thing made clear to me in this 2023 All-Star game is that the Latino presence in baseball is quite evident. Flying across the country from New York and landing in the most extreme Northwest state for any Latino could be a cultural shock. However, once I landed in the Seattle Tacoma International airport and entered the terminal one of the first images, I saw was a huge picture of Dominican superstar, Julio Rodríguez. Julio, AKA J-Rod was on an advertisement for Alaska Airlines.
A Dominican from a tropical Caribbean country advertising for an Alaska Airlines credit card does have a strange twist unless you know how much Julio is loved in Seattle. His image is everywhere and punctuated every time that he was introduced at the stadium, and you hear the entire sold-out stadium chanting, “JULIO, JULIO, JULIO!”
However, there is much more to the growing Latino presence than Julio Rodríguez and I mean more than Tacos outselling hotdogs. It was also evident in the number of Latino players participating in this years game. There was a total of twenty-eight Latino players born outside the United States and three Latino players (Nolan Arenado, J.D. Martínez and Bo Bichette) born here for a total of thirty-one Latino players.
In addition, as we detailed in our article on “Latinos Represent In 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby.” (https://www.latinosports.com/latinos-represent-in-2023-t-mobile-home-run-derby/) Five of the eight participants in this years Home Run Derby were Latino. The finals won by Dominican Vladimir Guerrero with 25 homers, over Cuban born/Mexican citizen, Randy Arozarena’s 23 was one of the most exciting we have seen that had a lot of sofrito (Caribbean Seasoning).
Besides the presence of the players, much of the music that is being played in the stadiums today in between innings and the music that the Latino players request when they walk to the batter’s box is Musíca Urbana/Reggaeton (Spanish Rap). I’m sure that Bad Bunny’s music is being heard in all the stadiums in America today.
Some teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t wait for September to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month and do something special geared for the Latino community, they have Taco Tuesdays every week with Mariachi bands and all. The New York Mets and the Florida Marlins have also had musical events like Salsa, or Merengue nights recognizing their Latino fan base.
I cannot end this article without recognizing the growth of our own LatinoMVP awards. How that award grew from awarding one player in 1990 (Rubén Sierra) to today where we award eight players, four from each league. And how the candidates for these awards have steadily grown every year where our recent 2022 ballot had a record total of thirty-nine Latino players.
I believe we are seeing the Latinization of baseball.
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