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 a sense 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)