Puerto Rico's Winter League: A History of Major League Baseball's Launching Padby Thomas E. Van Hyning
Since its inception in 1938, the Liga de Beisbol Professional de Puerto Rico has launched the careers of numerous island players, including Ruben Gomez, Jerry Morales, Orlando Cepeda, Vic Power, Ruben Sierra and the greatest of all Puerto Rican stars, Roberto Clemente. For many “imports,” the league has been a stepping stone to major league stardom. In its early years, many of the league’s stars came from the Negro Leagues: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Monte Irvin and Roy Campanella were just a few of the African American stars who graced the Puerto Rican diamonds in the 1940s and early 1950s. The Santurce outfield of 1954 featured one of the finest outfields in baseball history: Clemente, Willie Mays, and Puerto Rican star Bob Thurman. Through the mid–1980s, many major league teams sent their up-and-coming stars to Puerto Rico for a final bit of seasoning—Johnny Bench, Rickey Henderson, Phil Niekro, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount were among them. They played for such future league big league managers as Frank Robinson, Jim Fregosi and Kevin Kennedy, while the balls and strikes were called by Nestor Chylak, Doug Harvey, Dale Ford and many other future major league umpires.
- McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
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Meet the Author
Thomas E. Van Hyning, fluent in Spanish and a research manager for the Mississippi Tourism Division, served 1991-1995 as U.S. correspondent for the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame and is a former member of SABR's Latin American Committee. He writes for The National Pastime and the Baseball Research Journal. Mr. Van Hyning is also the author of The Santurce Crabbers (1999, $32.50). He lives in Florence, Mississippi.
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