Every September 15–October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. While the month is important for many reasons and is a celebration of all things in the Hispanic culture, it also helps serve as a reminder of the significant Latin influence in Major League Baseball.
When it comes to the contributions of Latin baseball players over the years, there are too many to count. In the history of professional baseball in Cincinnati, the Queen City has been a direct witness to many of these. Over the past 152 years of Cincinnati Reds baseball, so many impactful players have worn Reds threads, many of them coming from Latin American countries.
The first two Latin players in Reds history were Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans, both joining the Reds in 1911. While Almeida and Marsans opened the door for Latinos, it was someone else who was the first true Latin baseball star.
Adolfo “Dolf” Luque broke onto the scene in 1914 and joined the Reds in 1916 where he spent 12 of his 20 seasons as a professional ballplayer. During a time when most Latino players came and went, Luque distinguished himself and carved a tremendous career. The Cuban native was the first Latino to pitch in a World Series and was a member of the Reds’ first World Series champion team in 1919. During that Fall Classic, he pitched five innings over two appearance, allowing no runs, one hit and striking out six. His 1923 season is arguably the greatest single season for a pitcher in Reds history, as he led the NL with a club record 27 wins and posted a league-best 1.93 ERA.
Luque was the first Latin player to win 20 games in a season, 100 games in a career and lead either the American or National leagues in wins, winning percentage and ERA in a season. For his career, Luque posted 154 wins with a 3.09 ERA. He had 183 complete games over 321 starts with 970 strikeouts. Luque was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1958 and in 1967 became the first Latin player to be enshrined in the Reds Hall of Fame. In September 2021, Dolf Luque was the featured bobblehead for the Reds Hall of Fame’s Collectible Gift Series.