This archived article was written by: Alexandro Church
Major League Baseball’s superstars are no longer solely born and bread here in the United States, instead the league is patterned after America itself, and it’s a league of immigration. From Ichiro Suzuki to Sammy Sosa, Ozzie Guillen to Albert Pujols, no matter how they got here, they bring a rich culture to baseball and are part of baseball’s American dream.
Every year, these gifted athletes strengthened the game with their fun attitudes and endless spirit. Not only do they break records, they break barriers between cultures and races. Suzuki, of the Seattle Mariners, made his Major League debut on April 2, 2001, after nine seasons in Japan, and brought tens of thousands of fans to Safeco Field.
The Mariner’s fans were united behind this iconic player. Not only is he an icon in Seattle, but he is a legend in Japan. In fact his agent is quoted as saying about his client’s status, “When you mail Ichiro something from the states, you only have to use that name on the address and he gets it [in Japan]. He’s that big.” He has gone on to a successful career here in the U.S. with feats such as the single-season hit record with 262. He also holds the record for most consecutive 200-hit seasons with ten.
The influence of Japanese players has been a powerful one, especially since the arrival of Ichiro. There were a few before him, such as pitching great Hideo Nomo, who debuted in 1995 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The most recent of these acquisitions is Yu Darvish of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan. Darvish was essentially put up for auction so that MLB teams could bid for the rights to negotiate a contract with him. The winning team was the Texas Rangers who posted a bid of $51.7 million and would go on to sign Darvish to a six-year $60 million contract. He is expected to bring a new fan base to Texas, and the Rangers hope he will play a key role in taking them back to the World Series.
Now that we have spoken about Japan, we must not forget about the abundance of Latin players in the big leagues. Although the acquisition of this group of players is not nearly as profound as those in Japan, it is equally rewarding for these young men.
Baseball is life to many of these youngsters living in countries as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Cuba.
Many major league teams established training camps and scouting opportunities in the Dominican Republic where these young men train and play in front of scouts everyday trying to live out their dream of becoming the next Sosa or Pujols. Players come through these camps every year and sign to minor leagu e contracts and enter the road that leads to their dreams. Dominican-born superstar, Albert Pujols, took a different path when he moved to the States when he was 16 years old with his family and was instantly a star in high school. After a successful first year at a junior college, Pujols signed professionally and has gone on to a jaw-dropping career thus far.
No matter the team, baseball is rich with players from many lands. The international influence is so great that during the 2006 All Star game festivities, the home-run derby was a competition between players from different individual countries. It is also so widespread that, as of late, the major leagues first games have been played in Japan. The international players have brought to baseball a new energy and life and baseball has brought them to America to live the American dream.