Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

When Cuba’s Best Leave Their Country

Cuba is a renowned baseball country, producing incredible talent like Luis Tiant, Yasiel Puig and José Abreu. But while there is glory in Cuba, there is no gold, and players continually flee their country in the hopes of making it big in the U.S. and signing an almost guaranteed multi-million dollar MLB contract. So what kind of legacy do these players leave behind when they leave their home country and succeed in the U.S.?

Photo of baseball players in Cuba, by Dasha Lisitsina

The Bronx Judas

Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in MLB, embodies the best of baseball: tradition, family, and the American spirit—that is, if you’re white. For Boston’s black and Latino communities, Fenway has represented a cruel racial history of exclusion. But that history started to change once the Red Sox witnessed a string of powerhouse Latino players like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, prompting the stadium to fill with Dominican flags, Caribbean music and and a whole new culture the city didn’t know it had.

Latino USA’s Digital Media Director Julio Ricardo Varela, who founded, tells the story of how he betrayed his Bronx roots and became a Red Sox because of this change.

Photo of Julio by Miguel Varela.

Latinos and Baseball’s Color Line

Long before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, Latinos were bending it. For decades, the color line unofficially barred African-Americans from the Major Leagues, but racially ambiguous Cuban and other Latin American players found themselves dead center in the middle of a racial hierarchy that allowed a select few to push the limits of Major League Baseball’s presumed whiteness—limits that went so far that some managers even tried to some pass African-American players off as Latinos in the hopes of hiring them without public backlash.

Photo: Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame (Credit: Latino USA)

Ernesto Jerez: The Voice of Béisbol

Ernesto Jerez, ESPN’s Spanish-language MLB broadcaster famous for his signature home run cry, gives his thoughts on where America’s pastime is headed. As more and more Latinos make their way into MLB, Jerez believes they will play a crucial role —both as players and fans— in keeping the game alive in a society that seems to have decreasing patience for a nine-inning game.

Photo of Jerez celebrating his 2015 Emmy win (via Twitter).

#1528 – Béisbol

This week, Latino USA explores the past, present and future of baseball. From the history of how Latino players bent the rules of the color line in the years before Jackie Robinson, to the story of how and why Dominican fans starting showing up at Boston’s notoriously white Fenway Park, to the challenges that immigrant players face on their journey to the Major Leagues.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Archambault

Latino USA Listeners Name Best Latino Ballplayers

As expected, when we decided to promote this week’s upcoming Béisbol show by asking our listeners to name the five best (or favorite) Latino baseball players ever, the responses were as diverse as the 75 players named. Our listeners do know their béisbol.

By far, the top four players named were not a surprise. Mostly EVERYONE who filled out the survey included at least one (or all) of these legends:

Roberto Clemente


Fernando Valenzuela

Pedro Martínez

Mariano Rivera


After those top four names, this was the next tier of mentions. Watch and enjoy.

Martín Dihigo

“He was the best ballplayer of all time, black or white.”—Buck Leonard


Juan Marichal


Orlando Cepeda


Miguel Cabrera


Luis Tiant


Edgar Martínez


Albert Pujols


Big Papi


King Felix


This list could go on and on and on. If you want to read what others are saying, you can catch the conversation on Twitter. You can also tweet to @LatinoUSA, since I am sure you will begin to say that our listeners missed some big names, right? Seriously, we could have added 80 more names to this list, but I had only about two hours to find YouTube videos. It’s a good thing MLB did a pretty exhaustive list in 2012. You can check that one out and tell us what you think.

A few other things. Some of you asked that we let people know that the great Ted Williams is of Mexican descent from his mother’s side. A 2005 New York Times article discussed how Williams tried to play down his Mexcian heritage. Nonentheless, in 2012, MLB added Williams to the All-Time Latino Team.

In addition, my good friend Luis Marentes wanted to make sure I shout out Alex Cora because the survey also asked listeners for their favorite players, and not just the best. Luis wins on a technicality, so here’s an Alex Cora video (with a Vin Scully appearance):



Finally, I closed my last post with a cool béisbol song, so I decided to end this one with a song from my childhood.



Keep tweeting your thoughts to me @julito77 or to @LatinoUSA. See you Friday with a new Latino USA!

2007 photo of Mariano Rivera by Keith Allison via Flickr

Latino USA Is Doing a BÉISBOL Show

Please indulge us a for a few minutes, since we have some exciting news to share. This weekend, our show will be all about béisbol (or pelota, if you’re old-school caribeño like me). Our producer Michael Simon Johnson was featured in Sunday’s Daily News, where he gave listeners just a taste of why he and the team decided to dedicate an entire hour to the national pastime and the sport’s Latino influences. As I write this, I can barely contain my giddiness in what we will be sharing with you in a few days. That’s the reason why I took to Twitter earlier today and made this very simple request:

The responses so far have made me smile. A lot. So many of you chiming in. Not surprisingly, the debate is getting heated (Pedro? Clemente? Fernando? Mariano?). And then there is this, perhaps one of the greatest publicity photos ever taken in the history of the modern world (name the five players here and I will be impressed):

Based on the responses we have gotten so far from my tweet, we thought it would be interesting to create an actual survey for our listeners. It takes a minute or two to complete. Here it is (link):

Create your own user feedback survey

Check back later this week before the show and we will share the final results! Meanwhile, I leave you with this gem from 2002:

NASCAR’s Only Latino

When you think Mexico, you don’t really think of NASCAR, but the stock car racing empire has been in Mexico at least long enough for Germán Quiroga to be the only driver to win three consecutive series titles in his home country. Now trying his hand in the U.S. series, Quiroga talks with us about his journey and what it’s like being the only Latin American in NASCAR.



Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Stringer/Getty Images

David Beckham: ¡Bienvenido A Miami!

It seems like a paradox: Miami has a large Latino population, but no professional soccer team. What will it take to bring a profitable soccer team to the magic city? Could it be – David Beckham? Maria Hinojosa talks to Cesar Diaz about why the sport might need an international high-roller and what a new futból team could mean for Miami.


C1_Cesar Diaz PicCesar Diaz is the Editor-in-Chief for & With his family DNA scattered throughout Latin America, he’s never paid for lodging. His tools consist of Cafe Bustelo, Pen, Pad, Humor, Patience, Cantinflas/Chapulin Colorado films and his trusty laptop, Rocinante. Easily approachable, follow him at @CesarDiazNYC or simply email him at



Rico Roman: My Olympic Dream

Who are the Latinos who are representing us at the Olympics in Sochi? Rico Roman is a US veteran who was injured while on his third tour in Iraq. He told Maria about his injury, recovery and success in becoming a sled hockey player in the upcoming Paralympics in Sochi.

rico romanRico Roman is a member of the US Paralympic Sled Hockey team. He is a US Army veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He currently resides in Wincrest, Texas with his wife and two children.

California Surfer Teaches Kids To Ride With Soul

J.P. Garcia shouldn’t love surfing. With a mom who preferred pools and dad who was scared of the water, no one could have guessed that Garcia would become a “soul surfer”—a surfer who is in touch with nature. But not only has he become a talented surfer, he has also started to pass along his knowledge and skillsets onto the next generation. Diane Bock reports from Santa Barbara, California.


 Photo by Diane Bock




Diane Bock is an independent radio producer who enjoys surfing in tropical water.

Baseball’s International Neighbors

Despite Cuba’s track record of culling baseball talent, players on the island still make about as much money as an average construction worker. So it’s not surprising that one of their best players, 26-year-old center fielder Rusney Castillo, has defected from his home country in the hopes of signing with a Major League team in the U.S. This comes just months after Cuba’s recent change in policy allowing its players to sign with foreign leagues. But with the U.S. embargo on Cuba still on the books, Cuba will have to do much more to keep its star sluggers from leaving home and heading to the fame and fortune of the American dugout.


Photo by Wikimedia user Ramon.Rovirosa



Running Tips From A Latina All-Star

How do you embark on an adventure? Take it one step at a time!

Next month, Maria Hinojosa is doing something she’s never done before — training for a race! Ahead of her first 5k, we called all-star runner Brenda Martinez for some training tips.

 Photo courtesy of New Balance. 

B2 Running Tips_Headshot_BrendaMartinez_Getty

At the recent IAAF Track & Field World Championships in Moscow, Brenda Martinez became the first American woman to win a medal in the 800m. She ran her personal best and won the bronze medal. Martinez, 25, is from Rancho Cucamongo, CA and the only Latina on the national track and field team. Martinez started running at five years old and became the first person in her family to go to college when she attended UC-Riverside. She won the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the 1,500m and was a three-time NCAA All-American. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

The Real Spelunkers Of Puerto Rico

Forget the beaches ­– some of Puerto Rico’s most stunning natural environments are actually located under your feet. Our producer Marlon Bishop visits one of the island’s 2000 caves with a team of hardened local spelunkers on a journey in search of indigenous cave art. After a long journey hacking through the jungle with machetes, they arrive at a rarely-visited cave where Taino shaman may have once performed the sacred cohoba ritual.

This story is part of the RadioNature series which explores the ways Latinos connect with nature. RadioNature is supported by the REI Foundation.

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Marlon Bishop_new headshotMarlon Bishop is a radio producer, writer, and reporter based in New York. His work is focused on music, Latin America, New York City and the arts. He is a frequent contributor to WNYC, Studio 360, The World, Latino USA and MTV Iggy. He is an Associate Producer for Afropop Worldwide.








Bigger, Faster, Stronger: Latinas in Sports

Maria Hinojosa talks to Mexican soccer team member Anisa Guajardo and sports and fitness writer Laanna Carrasco about Latinas in sports, and the self-determination it takes to win.

C2_Anisaphoto2_Courtesy Anisa GuajardoAnisa Guajardo plays soccer for the Boston Breakers as well as the Mexican national soccer team.

C2 Laanna_on_steps courtesy Laanna CarrascoLaanna Carrasco is a sports and fitness writer. Her profile of Anisa Guajardo appeared in the most recent issue of Bigger Faster Stronger magazine.


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