As American as Baseball and Immigration

Fenway Park
Fenway Park. Photo by Robert F. on Unsplash

In Boston today, fans are out in the streets celebrating the victory of the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series. Here at The Immigrant Learning Center, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the huge impact immigration has on America’s favorite pastime.

Red Sox culture is known for its enthusiastic fan base, and nothing captures that spirit better than the iconic Red Sox baseball cap. The company ’47, one of the largest manufacturers of hats for major league baseball as well as football, basketball and more than 900 colleges, was started by Italian immigrant twin brothers in Boston. Evidence of their American dream is visible in the stands at every game.

Riding on the duck boats today alongside the team is David Ortiz or “Big Papi,” beloved retired Red Sox all-star. Ortiz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and grew up watching his father play pro baseball in his home country. Ortiz went on to become one of the sport’s most celebrated athletes, and took the oath of citizenship in Boston in 2008.

In fact, a recent analysis found that more than one-quarter of major league baseball players are foreign-born. Many, like Big Papi, have come from the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico. Some come from as far as Japan, Lithuania and South Africa. They, like all immigrants, tackle a language barrier, cultural differences and visa hurdles to make a new life for themselves and their families.

“America’s pastime,” like all things American since the country’s creation, depends on the contributions of people willing to bring their skills and dreams to this country. A team that best utilizes the strengths of every player, no matter their background, has the best chance of success.

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