In my previous post about sports in LA (and elsewhere), Maria commented:

LA is an overwhelmingly Mexican town and they are not especially fond of hockey, although they love baseball and soccer.

No doubt about soccer, but I’m not as sure about baseball.

Back when I was living in Estacado and working at Monmark/Soyokaze, some local businesspeople were getting together to try to raise money to buy an NFL team and relocate it to Santomas. I commented to a couple of coworkers that it seemed to me that if the city were able to support a big-league team in any support, it would be baseball.

Why? My coworkers asked.

About half of my coworkers were of Mexican descent (parents or grandparents). It was a bit awkward. The reason was obvious to me: the city has a huge Hispanic population. Hispanics love baseball, no? And Mexicans are Hispanic, so…

They had no idea what I was talking about. They understood what I meant when I said that Hispanics love baseball and didn’t take any offense at that observation or anything, but they basically said while it’s big in South America and elsewhere, it’s not so big in Mexico (or at least among Mexican-Americans).

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the latinization of baseball isn’t occurring from Mexico as much as other Hispanic countries. Comparatively few baseball players are from Mexico. The Hispanic players that come to mind tend to be from the other Hispanic countries (and country-equivalents). It turns out that Mexico isn’t even in the top 5 and if you look at the number of players as a portion of each country’s population, they aren’t even in the top 10. Also, at least a couple of high-profile Hispanic cities either don’t have a minor league team or have one in a lower division than you would expect given the city’s population.

Incidentally, without looking it up, can anyone guess what the top 5 countries are? Since the as-a-portion-of-the-population is skewed by a few players in sparsely-populated countries, we’ll go with straight numbers. Non-country countries, like Puerto Rico and Taiwan, count as countries.

-{Note: This post is about Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Hispanics, and sports. Nothing beyond that.}-

Category: Theater

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19 Responses to Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Hispanics, & Baseball

  1. Abel says:

    Based on where a lot of the MLB talent comes from, it seems to be the big Hispanic baseball countries are Cuba, Venezuela, DR, Puerto Rico (technically part of the US), and one of those other islands out there.

  2. Peter says:

    Baseball is also a major sport in Nicaragua, Panama, and Colombia, though in the last case it’s mainly limited to the Caribbean coastal region.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    Wow Trumwill, lumping minorities together in the same group; I’m suprised at you 😛

    As to your question, my guess is: US, DR, PR, VE, CA

  4. trumwill says:

    I was suitably embarassed, Mike, though they really took it with greater stride than I have been known to take stereotypes about southerners.

  5. trumwill says:

    BTW, Mike’s guesses are eerie-close. Switch Puerto Rico and Venezuela and they are exactly right.

  6. Brandon Berg says:

    Non-country countries, like Puerto Rico and Taiwan, count as countries.

    Does this blog have a subsidiary in China or something?

  7. logtar says:

    My guess would be

    Dominican Republic
    Puerto Rico (but aren’t they counted as American?

  8. Maria says:

    Probably East Coast teams have more Puerto Rican and Dominican baseball players, the West Coast more Mexican players. I was thinking of the Fernando Valenzuela and Jose Canseco era.

  9. Mike Hunt says:

    BTW, Mike’s guesses are eerie-close.

    Oh wow. I didn’t realize Venezuela was that high. I knew they were top 5 because Bobby Abreu was on the Yankees.

    MLB has done a good job promoting its international flavor. A number of years ago the Home Run Derby featured one player from each of eight different countries. There have also been two World Baseball Classics, and you can notice which countries are filled with major leaguers and which aren’t.

    The biggest surprise on the list is Canada. The only reason it is ahead of the Asian countries is NPB is very strict about allowing its players to go play in North America.

    Latin America is the polar opposite of Asia. Their players (except PR) are not subject to the Major League Draft, so teams sign a whole bunch of them when they are 16 or so, set up baseball academies for them, and hope that some of them stick.

  10. trumwill says:

    Does this blog have a subsidiary in China or something?

    Not sure I follow. Because I don’t call Taiwan an actual country but instead something in between?

  11. trumwill says:

    The only reason it is ahead of the Asian countries is NPB is very strict about allowing its players to go play in North America.

    How do they prevent them?

    Interestingly, none of the Japanese I worked with at Monmark/Soyokaze were the slightest bit interested in baseball.

  12. Brandon Berg says:

    Not sure I follow. Because I don’t call Taiwan an actual country but instead something in between?

    Sort of. I don’t know if they briefed on this when you worked there, but Mindstorm has a policy of not putting the header “Country” at the top of a list of countries. Instead they’ll label it as “Country/Region”. Now, this helps to avoid a number of sensitive issues, but one specific incident that prompted this policy was the arrest of Microsoft employees in China for selling software that referred to Taiwan as a country.

    Hence the question about having a subsidiary in China.

    Joking aside, Taiwan is a real country. Unlike Hong Kong and Macau, which really are provinces of the People’s Republic of China, the government of Taiwan is completely independent of and has no ties to the PRC. It’s not diplomatically recognized as an independent country by most other countries or the UN, but that’s just beacuse Beijing has threatened to throw a temper tantrum if they do. It’s kind of like a stalker ex-husband who just won’t accept that it’s over.

    Calling Taiwan a “non-country country” could be very offensive to a person from Taiwan. The diplomatic thing to do would have been to use a different example.

  13. Maria says:

    Brandon: I sincerely doubt if there are many Taiwanese these days who would take offense at being called a “non-country country.” That would be the Old Guard of the Kuomintang.

    Many younger Taiwanese know that China could swallow them up in a New York minute, and they’re pragmatic about it. They don’t expect Taiwan to remain independent forever. There are pro-reunification political parties in Taiwan nowadays.

  14. Mike Hunt says:

    How do they prevent them?

    There is an agreement in place between MLB and NPB to prevent Asian players from playing in North America en masse.

    In terms of Major League calibre players, the Asians may have more than Latin America, but since they have their own professional league, we will never know for sure.

  15. stone says:

    Well, the majority of Hispanics in Los Angeles are of Mexican descent (although many are not), and every Dodger game I’ve ever been to had a lot of Hispanic-looking people there. So it’s probably true that Mexican-Americans love baseball.

    Maybe Fernando Valenzuela played a role in its popularization in that community.

  16. trumwill says:

    Maybe it really is a west coast thing. Or maybe the Dodgers in particular because of the Valenzuela thing.

  17. Mike Hunt says:

    By the way, who is the greatest Latin American baseball player of all time? Hint: It’s somebody you would never think of…

  18. Mike Hunt says:

    Enough time has passed for an answer.

    IMHO, the greatest Latin American baseball player of all time is Ted Williams.

    For those who doubt he belongs in that category, his mother is Mexican. He just happens to get his looks from his father. If you ever saw a picture of his mother or his brother, you would see it is the case.
    Williams grew up in San Diego…

  19. trumwill says:

    Yeah, there’s no way I would have gotten that one.

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