Latino managers, executives continue to break barriers
That's when two of the greatest trailblazing families in American sports were on hand to share the day with the first Latino general manager in Major League Baseball history.
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“Now everybody has a pro scouting department, but that was one of the first pro scouting departments in baseball,” Minaya recalls. “So I kind of came up as a professional scouting director. I was always involved in domestic and international scouting.”
Minaya was then hired as an assistant general manager by the Mets in 1997. He left the Mets to become the Expos’ GM before returning as the Mets’ GM after the 2004 season. He remained in that position until October 2010.
Former Phillies infielder Ruben Amaro, Jr., who was born in the U.S. to a Jewish mother and Cuban-Mexican father, became the second Latino general in baseball when the Phillies named him to that post in November 2008.
“We’re a product of how baseball has grown internationally,” Minaya said. “I’m of Hispanic heritage, but I was raised in New York. Opportunities came with the Rangers as a scout and I was able to work my way from area scout to general manager.
“The fact that I happened to be the first Hispanic to be in this position of leadership, you feel honored. It was just the way the game continues to grow with the international players and the Hispanic players.
“It wasn’t a Hispanic deal. It was more baseball and the fact I was bilingual and had been involved.”
Alou, the 1994 National League manager of the Year, is one of the most successful Latino managers of all-time. He guided the 2003 Giants to the NL West crown with a 100-61 record and before that led the 1994 Expos to a 74-40 record in that strike-shortened season.
“For me Felipe was always a great manager and player,” Minaya said. “He is a person that understood and had great respect for all players, but he also had an understanding of broader issues than just baseball.
“Felipe is similar to myself. I think you communicate with Latino players, but players are players. He could be understanding, but he still demanded high standards. He had very high standards.”
Jose de Jesus Ortiz is a freelance writer from Houston