The New Face of Baseball: The One-Hundred-Year Rise and Triumph of Latinos in America's Favorite Sport

The New Face of Baseball: The One-Hundred-Year Rise and Triumph of Latinos in America's Favorite Sport

by Tim Wendel
     
 

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Going as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, to the early days of Cuban baseball, Wendel traces the spread of American baseball fever in the Caribbean and Mexico; discusses lesser-known historical standouts, including Adolfo Luque and Martin Dihigo; and describes the days when only light-skinned Latinos wereallowed to participate in Major League competition as

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Overview

Going as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, to the early days of Cuban baseball, Wendel traces the spread of American baseball fever in the Caribbean and Mexico; discusses lesser-known historical standouts, including Adolfo Luque and Martin Dihigo; and describes the days when only light-skinned Latinos wereallowed to participate in Major League competition as well as the linguistic barrier many Latinos faced when playing on teams with "English only" rules.

Featuring interviews with Latino superstars past and present; a foreword by Bob Costas; the first-ever-published Latino All-Century Team, featuring players selected by Omar Minaya; and photos taken by award-winning Sports Illustrated photographer Victor Baldizon, The New Face of Baseball helps fans of America's favorite pastime to understand the history of those who bring hope and honor every season to the teams they have given their lives to, and the Hispanic culture that, if allowed, can lie hidden and unnoticed under a team jersey.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wendel's story of the Latino experience in baseball is a faithful and functional roundup of player mini-bios and factoids. With a foreword by Costas, the book's got the black-and-white down, but one wishes for more color: Wendel, a founder of USA Today Baseball Weekly, gets his subjects' on-field accomplishments, but could have dug deeper to explore their experiences as people, not mere athletes. Such episodes as Pirate Roberto Clemente's insistence that people call him by his given name and not "Bob," as on his baseball card, and his speaking Spanish during a national television interview following the Pirates' World Series win in 1971 are inspired glimpses into the player's psyche and excellent examples of the strides Latinos have made in the game over the last century. However, while the 1998 home-run duel between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire is an intriguing swatch of baseball lore, the reader only partially gets a sense of where the Dominican-reared Sosa's unique enthusiasm for the game comes from. Similarly, an excerpt about miscreant slugger Jose Canseco reveals little more than even a casual baseball fan would have read in the tabloids. At times, Wendel is guilty of suspending objectivity in praising his subjects: in detailing the infamous incident of superstar second baseman Roberto Alomar spitting in an umpire's face, the ballplayer becomes the victim, and fans who still remember "the unfortunate situation" are seen as the transgressors. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Not the first books on Latinos in American baseball, these are nevertheless long overdue given the numbers cited by Wendel-at the start of the 2001 season a whopping 20 percent of major leaguers were of Latin American descent. After a short historical overview-the subtitle proves misleading since, despite the early presence of a few light-skinned Cubans in the majors, it wasn't until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 that the rise of the Latinos was enabled-Wendel (Castro's Curveball) focuses on the achievements of a number of stars from Latin America and the Caribbean. Fans will recognize names like Minoso, Clemente, Cepeda, or Sosa, but it is enlightening to see them presented as part of a single accomplished group. We might wish that Wendel had elaborated a bit more on the obstacles he acknowledges they faced-discrimination, stereotyping, and the government quota placed upon foreign-born ballplayers-but this is an excellent overview. Breton, a Sacramento Bee columnist, has taken a different approach, teaming with Bee photographer Villegas to produce what is more an eye-pleasing photo essay than strictly a history. Like Wendel, he gives us a brief history and then provides biographical sketches of Latino players. However, he also offers the benefits of Villegas's excellent camera work and a bilingual text. Further, he better shows the long row that Latinos have to hoe in order to make the majors, including many sobering photos and accounts of faded prospects back in the barrio. Both books are highly recommended for public library baseball collections, with Wendel's stronger on overall content and Breton's more appropriate for young adult readers and for Spanish-speaking populations.-Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A workmanlike overview of the giant contribution Latinos have made to the game of baseball. No one who watches the game can doubt that Latino players bring a hustle and flash to baseball: "That impromptu game of pepper down the third base line before the game, the way the base runner raced from first to third without a backward glance?" It is a style of baseball's mythical past, writes journalist and novelist Wendel (Castro's Curveball, 1999), "and that is how we are beginning to see it played more and more here today, thanks to the flow of talent coming from Latino countries." Wendel is not interested in disparaging non-Latino players, but these mini-biographies of Latinos put their prodigious talents on full display. From the pioneers, the men Roberto Clemente referred to as a "double minority"-black and Spanish-speaking-like Orestes "Minnie" Minoso, who came to the Chicago White Sox in 1951, Wendel tells the stories of players whose names are now household words: Rod Carew (of whom Ted Williams said, "He's so smooth he seems to be doing it without trying," like hitting .388 in 1977), Sammy Sosa, and the $252-million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who may well become the Michael Jordan of the diamond. Wendel's writing at first can seem simplistic, but that is because the style has an easy conversational tone, and more than enough enthusiasm. He gives his opinions of the players, but like the good reporter he is, he has, when possible, interviewed the players themselves as well as gotten the impressions of other players-Latinos and non-Latinos-to gauge where the players stand in the estimation of their peers. Wendel has also traveled throughout Latin countries, especially Cuba, to convey asense of where these players come from. No great surprises here-but deeply affecting and impressive under one roof. (16-page color photo insert, not seen) Agent: Philip Lief/The Philip Lief Group

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060536329
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/06/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

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