Latin Americans now comprise nearly 30 percent of the players in Major League Baseball (MLB). This provocative work looks at how young Latinos are recruited—and often exploited—and at the cultural, linguistic, and racial challenges faced by those who do make it. There are exposés of baseball camps where teens are encouraged to sacrifice education in favor of hitting and fielding drills and descriptions of fraud cases in which youngsters claim to be older than they are in order to sign contracts. The book also documents the increasing use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by kids desperately trying to gain an edge.
In addition to discussing the hard road many Latinos follow to MLB, the work also traces the fascinating history of baseball’s introduction in Latin American countries—in some cases, more than a century ago. Finally, there are the stories of great Latino players, of men like Roberto Clemente and Carlos Beltran who made it to the majors, but also of men who were not so lucky. Through their tales, readers can share the dreams and expectations of young men who, for better or worse, believe in “America’s pastime” as their gateway out of poverty.
- Provides a historical overview of the increasing numbers of Latin Americans in Major League Baseball and its minor league system
- Details the corrupt recruitment system in several Latin American countries that, in most cases, leads aspiring youngsters on a fruitless quest for a professional baseball contract
- Highlights the careers of players, especially Roberto Clemente, who became role models for young Latin American players
- Offers a brief history of the origin of baseball in Latin American countries, drawing on unique documentary material from the National Archives
- Uses recent, first-person interviews to share examples of how some individuals and institutions are attempting to reform the system