The joy and passion brought to the game of baseball by Latin American players is now on display for everyone to see at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Museum unveiled a permanent exhibit entitled ¡Viva Baseball! on May 23, 2009 in Cooperstown, honoring the Latin American impact on baseball through a celebration of Caribbean Basin countries and players. Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal – two of the nine Latin American Hall of Fame inductees – participated in the exhibit opening. Puerto Rico’s Roberto Clemente became the first Latino elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 and has since been joined by Martín Dihigo, José Méndez, Tony Pérez and Cristóbal Torriente (Cuba); from the Dominican Republic – Juan Marichal; from Panama – Rod Carew; from Puerto Rico – Orlando Cepeda; and from Venezuela – Luis Aparicio.
¡Viva Baseball! features nearly 150 artifacts and a state-of-the-art multi-media presentation celebrating the passion of the Latin love affair with baseball, spanning nearly 150 years of history. The exhibit focuses on the rich baseball traditions of the major baseball-playing countries of the region: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. In video interviews located throughout the exhibit, Latin American Hall of Famers and major league All-Stars provide first-hand accounts for playing in their homeland, their journey to the major leagues and insight into what makes Caribbean baseball special.
Some of the historic artifacts from ¡Viva Baseball! include: A ball from the first organized pro season in the United States from 1871, used in a game that featured Cuban Esteban Bellán, the first Latin American big leaguer; a jersey from Puerto Rico’s Roberto Clemente; a glove and cap from Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal of the Dominican Republic; a jersey worn by Hector Espino, the “Mexican Babe Ruth”; and jerseys and equipment from current Latin American superstars like Albert Pujols, David Ortiz and Johan Santana.