Spanish Heritage Month is Sep 15 – Oct 15 this year. I thought I’d put up a post or two about Latinos in baseball.
So, to answer the question in the title, Lou Castro is generally cited as the first modern major league player born in a Latin American country. Never heard of him? He only played in 42 games from April – September, 1902, for the AL pennant winning Philadelphia A’s. He played second base and in the outfield, 143 AB, 35 hits (.245 avg), with one home run.
I said “generally cited” for a reason—the recognition isn’t universal. The preponderance of evidence shows he was born in 1876 in Medellin, Colombia and came to the US in 1885 with his father. There is a passenger ship manifest with their names and matching their ages docking in New York that year. However, Castro in later life filled out government forms and census papers stating he was born in New York. He also received government assistance in later life and might have done so to avoid questions about his citizenship and thus eligibility for said assistance.
So, if one decides to consider Castro US-born, who was the first foreign born Latino big league player? That would then be Chick Pedroes, who played 2 games with the Chicago Cubs in August 1902. He had 6 AB but no hits.