Viva Baseball: Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger by Samuel O. Regalado documents the struggles of Latin baseball players from the end of the nineteenth century. He explains how many Latins received low paying contracts. The presentation has numerous black and white pictures throughout. In connection with this book, Regalado interviewed at least 25 Latin baseball stars, including Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, and Tony Oliva.
The book portrays Luis Aparicio of the Chicago White Sox. Aparicio was known to make routine, difficult and seemingly impossible plays. In ’56, he led the American League in putouts, assists and the fewest errors.
Orlando Cepeda of the St. Louis Cardinals is depicted in the book. The Baseball Writer’s Association selected Cepeda for the ’58 Rookie of the Year Award. In ’61, he blasted 46 home runs and drove in 142 runs. Tony Oliva of the Twins is shown, too. In ’64, he achieved a .323 average, according to Regalado.
Juan Marichal is featured. In ’60, he played with the Giants. Before the end of the decade, Marichal won over twenty games six times. In addition, he was known for a high kick windup.
The legendary Rod Carew is shown. He won seven American League Batting titles, collected 3053 hits and was named ’77 MVP for the American League. He had a .328 career batting average and was entered into the ’91 Hall of Fame.
Regalado has an extensive bibliography consisting of citations like Sport Magazine, New York Times, Sentinal, Sports Illustrated, and the Chicago Tribune, to mention just a few. There are a few inaccuracies in the presentation. For instance, Cuban pro baseball started in 1878 not 1868. In addition, Bobby Avila played for Almendares in the Cuban (not the Mexican) league.
Viva Baseball is a wonderful book which documents the significant achievements of Latin players for more than a century in the game of baseball. The author’s contribution to the sport is considerable for this alone, although there may be some factual errors in parts of the book due to the fact-checking issues inherent in an extensive research effort of this magnitude.
The author doesn’t say so, but today there are a multitude of professionals in law, accountancy, finance, computer applications, and other fields available to assist Latin players. Assistance can be provided with the many contract and professional issues which arise out of the shear amounts of money that changes hands in the sport. Additionally, there is a need for continuing accountability to the players, owners, media and the public.