Hall calls growing for Latino players

January 24th, 2024

When the great Roberto Clemente was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, shortly after his tragic death in a plane crash, he became the first Latino player to get a plaque in Cooperstown.

The Puerto Rico native opened the door, but it took a while for many to join him. Over the next 37 election cycles, only five more Latinos who had played in the AL or NL made it into the Hall: Juan Marichal (Dominican Republic, 1983), Luis Aparicio (Venezuela, 1984), Rod Carew (Panama, 1991), Orlando Cepeda (Puerto Rico, 1999) and Tony Perez (Cuba, 2000).

(A few other players from Cuba, who had played in the Negro Leagues before integration -- Martín Dihigo, José Mendéz and Cristóbal Torriente -- also were inducted).

But since the beginning of the 2010s, that trickle of players has turned into a steady stream. Adrián Beltré, a first-ballot selection in 2024, is the latest in the growing line, and Latino players are set to continue running toward Cooperstown through this decade and beyond. Let’s take a deeper look.

The HOFers since 2010

Over the course of the previous decade-plus, the number of Latino Major Leaguers in the Hall of Fame has more than doubled, from six to 16, including Beltré, who will be officially inducted on July 21. Five of the new enshrinements came in the latter half of the 2010s. From 2017-19, these players accounted for four of the 11 selections made by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Roberto Alomar, Puerto Rico (2011, second ballot): The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman was carrying on the baseball legacy of his father, Sandy Alomar, who played 15 seasons in MLB. His brother, Sandy Jr., played 20 seasons and is now a coach with the Guardians.

Pedro Martínez, Dominican Republic (2015, first ballot): Pedro joined Marichal as the second Dominican and second Latino MLB pitcher to make the Hall. He honored that connection during his emotional, bilingual induction speech, calling Marichal up to the stage.

Ivan Rodriguez, Puerto Rico (2017, first ballot): “Pudge” and his rocket arm earned the way to Cooperstown with 13 Gold Glove Awards as a catcher, 14 All-Star selections and an AL MVP Award in 1999.

Vladimir Guerrero, Dominican Republic (2018, second ballot): One of the most distinctive and dynamic players of his era, Guerrero raked his way to Cooperstown. Upon his induction, he was already thinking of those coming behind him, saying, “I know this could open the door for other players.”

Mariano Rivera, Panama (2019, first ballot): The all-time saves leader became the first player to be elected unanimously to the Hall, as he was named on all 425 submitted BBWAA ballots.

Edgar Martinez, Puerto Rico (2019, 10th ballot): Martinez, who was born in New York but grew up in Puerto Rico, finally made it in his last year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, completing a rise from only 27 percent support in 2015.

David Oritz, Dominican Republic (2022, first ballot): One of the greatest playoff performers in the game's history, Ortiz became the first designated hitter to enter the Hall in his first year on the ballot.

Adrián Beltré, Dominican Republic (2024, first ballot): Beltré's 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and outstanding defense at third base made him an easy choice for immediate enshrinement. He was listed on 95.1% of ballots.

Coming up on the ballot

Over the next four years, the fraternity of Latino Hall of Famers will continue to expand. Here is a look at upcoming BBWAA ballots.

2025: Félix Hernández (Venezuela) had the peak dominance but might fall short when it comes to longevity. He will be joined by former batting champion and 2006 NL Rookie of the Year, Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic). Among returning players, Andruw Jones (Curaçao) saw his voting percentage climb to 61.6% in 2024. With three years left on the ballot, he should have enough time to cross the 75% threshold for induction. The same goes for Carlos Beltrán (Puerto Rico), who has a stellar case due to his spectacular all-around play (435 homers, 312 steals, three Gold Glove Awards in center field). Although his role in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal may have affected his vote totals, he is at a healthy 57.1% entering his third year on the ballot.

Alex Rodriguez, the son of Dominican parents, came in at 34.8 percent in his fourth year on the ballot. He has no-doubt Hall of Fame numbers but also baggage caused by performance-enhancing drug use and suspensions. Fellow ballot holdovers Manny Ramírez (Dominican Republic), Omar Vizquel (Venezuela) and Bobby Abreu (Venezuela) all came in below 35 percent last time around and have a long way to go.

2026: There are no obvious first-ballot choices here, but Edwin Encarnación (Dominican Republic), with his 424 career home runs has the best shot.

2027: Two-time All-Star Asdrúbal Cabrera (Venezuela) and three-time World Series champion Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela) may not stick on the ballot beyond their first year.

2028: This is a big one. Will Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) become the second player elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame? And will he enter the Hall alongside longtime Cardinals teammate Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico)? Robinson Canó (Dominican Republic) has stats worthy of Cooperstown, but multiple suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs will undoubtedly curtail his support.

Looking even further down the road, Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela) could be a unanimous selection as well once his name appears on the ballot in 2029. He will be joined on the ballot by Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic), who launched 464 homers during his career. However, he was once suspended for PED use.

Of course, the BBWAA ballot is not the only means of getting into the Hall, whose Era Committees (formerly known as the Veterans Committee) consider those who have previously fallen off that ballot. Candidates are divided into eras and considered on a rotating basis; 10 players have been elected via this method since 2018, including Cuban natives Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva in 2022.

Still putting up numbers

Players must be retired for five years before becoming eligible for the Hall, so anyone still active in 2024 would have to wait until at least ‘30 to reach Cooperstown. But there is one Latino Major Leaguer who has likely punched his ticket whenever the time comes: Venezuela native Jose Altuve. We'll see if the Astros' sign-stealing scandal impacts Altuve's candidacy, but his on-field résumé so far -- two World Series championships, three batting titles, six Silver Sluggers, eight All-Star selections -- speaks for itself.

Other veterans such as José Ramírez (Dominican Republic), Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico) Xander Bogaerts (Aruba) and Manny Machado, who has Dominican heritage, could all reach the Hall with some big seasons in their 30s.

There is also no shortage of younger players with work still to do, but plenty of time in which to do it. That includes 2023 NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. (Venezuela), Juan Soto (Dominican Republic), who has four Silver Sluggers through his age-24 season, and 23-year-old star Julio Rodríguez (Dominican Republic). In them, you can see the next wave of Latino stars rolling toward Cooperstown.