Bronx, NY: In 1989 the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) in selecting, Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers as the American League Most Valuable Player did something that helped wake up a movement of Latinos in the baseball sports world that has left its mark for the last thirty years.
When the BBWAA selected Yount, they were perhaps unaware that there was another player, a black Puerto Rican named, Ruben Sierra of the Texas Rangers that also had some impressive offensive numbers that easily could have also made him a major contender. In fact, so much so that one major baseball magazine and a countless number of sports journalist, especially in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America were already touting the idea that Sierra was the 1989 American League MVP.
When the BBWAA announced their results in January of 1990 that Robin Yount had won the award, that created a bit of an outcry from many barrio’s throughout the country and especially in Puerto Rico where I was vacationing with my family celebrating 3 Kings day. When the news broke out on the island many in the baseball sports community reacted immediately. I happen to stumble onto such a heated conversation in the confines of the hotel that was also having a luncheon for journalist and a friend introduced me to the heated topic at hand. He was shocked when I told him I did not know who Ruben Sierra was? This was 1990, and as a Bronxite all I knew was the Yankees and NY Mets. News of players like Sierra from another team and town were not as common as today given the cable news and the Internet. When he and some of his colleagues began to badger me with the facts on Sierra, I gave in and agreed that he did seem to have a very good year and perhaps like they stated, he was overlooked.
However, that simple conversation turned into a major life changing decision as I told them there in that hotel that I believed that Ruben Sierra should be awarded something. I told them that I lived a few blocks up from Yankee stadium and that I would work on giving him such recognition even if it was as he stepped off the bus bringing his team to the Bronx as he walked into Yankee stadium to play against the Yankees in the upcoming month of April.
The details of what occurred to actually award Mr. Sierra were much more complex than I ever thought of just giving him a plaque as he stepped off the bus in Yankee stadium. In fact, it’s so complex and interesting that I promised my family and those that have heard all the details that one day I will write a future book on it. However, what is to be told is that from that first event in April 1990 to today 2020 the LatinoMVP Award has become the longest and oldest award given to a Latino baseball player. It has also become the most prestigious award given to a Latino player in that thirty-year period with the participation of the Latino Sports Writers & Broadcasters Association (LSWBA).
This year, the award was to celebrate its glorious 30th Anniversary. We had planned major events, as MLB is now a sponsor of the award. Unfortunately, we never expected this serious health Corona Pandemic that has literally changed the landscape for just about everyone, not just in this country, but also around the world.
However, we are resilient and it was that attitude that helped create this incredible achievement of an award for Latino baseball players that has endured 30 years and growing. Therefore, we will continue in a very creative way to continue this year’s awards. We don’t know what the future of baseball is for this season, but we do know that baseball will indeed resume. When it does, we will be ready as we have for the past 30 years to award our communities best Latino players.
I have included this year’s ballot. We invite you; our readers to get into the baseball spirit by participating and sending in your vote as to whom you believe were the best Latino players of 2019.
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