The Minnesota Twins are starting the 2019 season off well. Part of their secret is the team has seventeen players from Spanish-speaking countries on their 40-man roster. That’s three shy of half the players! The Twins fabulous Latin American baseball player contingent has been given the moniker, La Bomba Squad, named for Puerto Rican traditional music and dance. Three of the seventeen men are from Puerto Rico, and all seventeen are from the Caribbean region. See my chart for details.
Latin American baseball players have joined the Twin’s team since the very beginning of the ball club in 1961. I grew up hearing the WCCO radio announcer yell about Panamanian Rod Carew’s home runs for the team in the 1970s.
PBS aired an Independent Lens film about young baseball recruits from the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago. That was a real eye opener for me about how difficult it is to succeed in the sport, especially coming from another culture. Six of the Twins lineup are from the Dominican Republic. The film helped me imagine their journey to the big leagues.
The number of Dominicans employed by the Twins is only topped by the number of Venezuelans on the team, a total of eight. Baseball was brought home to Caracas by scholars who had learned it while studying abroad in the US at the end of the 1800s. The game’s popularity rose quickly. Venezuela’s had major league baseball league of their own since 1927.
Historically, the Minnesota Twins have found amazing talent from Latin America: Tony Oliva, (Roberto Clemente), Rod Carew and Pedro Ramos to name a few. The new wave, La Bomba Squad is looking just as promising. [Correction: Clemente played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.] Thanks to a Minnesota Twins fan friend who brought this to my attention. She wrote me, “The other Latino Twins players who were active alongside Carew and Oliva were Zoilo Versalles, Jose Valdevielso, Julio Bécquer, Leo Cárdenas (Cuba), Jesús “Bombo” Rivera (Puerto Rico) and César Tovar (Venezuela), well known for playing all nine positions in a single game!”
¡Viva la Bomba Squad! Hope the Twins make it to the World Series! ¡Olé!
Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco. –Rebecca