Good morning, and happy Salute to Latin American Béisbol Day! Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized nationally from September 15 through October 15, significant because numerous Latin American countries gained their independence during this period. MLB, in particular, dedicates the month of September in its entirety to celebrating Hispanic heritage, and it is during this time that most teams have a promotional day to recognize the achievements and influences Latin American players have had on baseball. In addition to these days, all of MLB recognizes September 17th as Roberto Clemente Day (something I’m very much looking forward to writing about in a few weeks). To further celebrate this day I’ve put together a bit of information about Latin American players in MLB, and on the Mariners specifically, so that you have some pool of knowledge to draw from while listening to the M’s announcers attempt varying levels of Spanglish.
Every year there is a Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card that is released shortly after opening day, fueled by the questions "Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to play or to operate a team?". The Report Card itself could lead to many an in-depth piece, and while I highly recommend everyone take some time to peruse the other statistics, today I simply want to highlight the 28.5% of Latino players on 2016 Opening Day 25-man rosters. Although this percentage is down from 2015’s 29.3%, Latinos remain the highest represented minority in MLB by a large margin. MLB has (glacially slowly) started to respond to this trend, as evidenced by MLB’s January 2016 requirement that all teams hire a full-time Spanish translator.
For the Mariners, in particular, this percentage soars even higher; as of September 3, 2016 approximately 48% of the Seattle Mariners 25-man roster is Latino (*note: this is an approximation based on the parameters the Report Card uses to recognize Latinos, coupled with my knowledge of the players. It is by no means exact). An interesting future research project could be looking up the other 29 rosters to see how the Mariners’ percentage stacks up. This 48% feels particularly large when considering the fact that three of the Mariners’ four star players are Latino. You don’t need to be a diehard fan to recognize the significant role that Latinos play in Major League Baseball; it can be seen in the countless Canó and Hernández jerseys worn by Seattlites young and old, and heard in the snippets of dugout audio on the ROOT broadcast.
Today the M’s will take the field in special "Marineros" uniforms, likely the same as the ones pictured below. Although, how cool would it be to see these in the Sunday cream alternates?
Beyond the uniforms, which will be auctioned off after the game, the promotional note on the Mariners’ website simply states, "The Mariners will honor the many great contributions that Latin Americans have made in baseball". I imagine we’ll see themed videos and activities in between innings on Mariners Vision, and we can expect a special guest to throw out the first pitch. Last year the 21-year-old Dominican prospect Erick Mejia delivered the ceremonial pitch, though he is unlikely to replicate this achievement since he was traded to the Dodgers for Joe Wieland back in January.
Lastly, I want to briefly highlight a new initiative, "Ponle Acento," which seeks to encourage the recognition of Latinos’ influence on baseball by putting accent marks, and tildes, on players’ uniforms.
Robinson Canó notably added the accent to the back of his jersey after the 2014 season and hopefully, with this campaign we’ll see more players putting the accents on their jerseys as well. In conjunction with this, some sportswriters have been making an effort to include these diacritical marks in their writing, and hopefully this will spread to other forms of media as well. To make it even easier on all you Mariners fans, the glorious Kate Preusser has put together a list of M’s players with their appropriate accents, seen below.
Once again, Happy Salute to Latin American Béisbol Day! Goms, gobiz, et al.