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Baseball: An International Passion

Latino players in major league history

Baseball: An International Passion

Photo by: Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Alex Rodríguez in the United States.

En español | During the fall of 2007, I had the opportunity to create a book about the history of Latinos in baseball. It was, to be sure, a bewildering and daunting proposition. First, I knew nothing about baseball. Second, I had three months to create the book from beginning to end, a process that usually takes a year.

See also: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

A week later — after I read the book proposal by Tim Wendel, looked at a photo essay by Jose Luis Villegas, chatted with Rich Pilling and Gur Melamede at Major League Baseball, and Googled several nights away — I was hooked. If these Latino athletes could overcome language barriers, cultural differences, poverty, racism, itchy clothing, homesickness, and grueling itineraries to be the best players they could be, I could make a book in record time. With the ingenuity and talent of everyone previously mentioned, we did, and we called it Far From Home: Latino Baseball Players in America, published by National Geographic Books.

The slideshow you are about to see is but a small part of this rich history. Please know that our editing process does not negate the accomplishments and inspiration of so many other Latino baseball legends such as Omar Minaya, the Alou family, Dennis Martinez, Bert Campaneris, Andres Galarraga, Alex Rodriguez, Luis Tiant, the Cuban National Team, Davey Concepcion, Cesar Geronimo, Sandy Alomar Sr., Tony Perez… and the list continues.

Due in great part to the early and wholehearted adoption of the sport by Caribbean and Latin American countries, the love of baseball is, today, truly international.

You may also like: Dominican Republic's inside baseball by Mark Kurlansky.