Last Sunday and throughout this past weekend the small town of Cooperstown, NY had many more times its population with the events and coverage of Sundays HOF induction ceremony. The induction of the class of 2019 of Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith brought fans and press coverage from throughout the country. However, it was evident that many of those present were there to witness and cover Mariano Rivera, the first player ever to be inducted into this prestigious hall unanimously.
It was also evident that this years HOF induction ceremony brought a large number of Spanish speaking fans and tourist. According to the HOF over fifty thousand tourist converged to this quaint town with a population of less than two thousand for the HOF inductions ceremonies. It was obvious that to anyone that attended that Spanish was heard everywhere. In the local town streets, walking down Main St., in the HOF Museum, on the shuttle busses and everywhere in the multitude of people at the induction site, the Clark Sports Center. The reason was obvious; you had two Latino born stars being inducted. Mariano Rivera was born in Panama and Edgardo Martínez was born in Puerto Rico.
These two countries were very well represented. I spoke to many Panamanians who had flown in from Panama to attend. The entire bus parked next to us was all from Panama. Walking through the town, and the Clark Center I heard as much Spanish as when I’m walking through the streets of my hood, the South Bronx. I met many from Puerto Rico and Boricuas (progressive Puerto Ricans) from the island and from different states in the Northeast who came for Edgar Martinez.
The presence of Latinos in this years induction ceremonies was so impactful that the Panamanian airline COPA was smart enough to promote themselves by sponsoring “Latin Fest” several miles south of Cooperstown, a festival with some of the top Latin artist from Puerto Rico, Panama and the Caribbean.
This years HOF should also be a lesson to those who still do not understand that the future of baseball has a lot to do with the Latino community. If they do not pay attention to the growth and potential consumer base of the fastest growing community in the nation, America’s pastime will be exactly that, past its time as the majority of the ticket buyers today being baby boomers are passing on leaving a void that might not be filled unless more attention is focused on the Latino community.
We know that there are some in MLB that understand this. That is why we are grateful that MLB is now a major sponsor of the LatinoMVP award, the oldest and most prestigious award now celebrating its 29th year recognizing the top Latino baseball players. However, there is still much more to be done, especially in other sectors of the game and with the thirty teams throughout the country and Canada.
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