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Confronting Barriers - Culture and Language


Unfamiliar language, food and social customs add to the difficulty Latin players face in adjusting to life in the U.S. Many times these barriers prevent players from even attempting the transition, or they give up after it proves too difficult.

"I never let the world hurt me. They used to call me terrible things. I let it go in one ear and out the other. On the outside, I just gave them my smile. My smile all the time." - Orestes "Minnie" Miñoso, who in 1949 became the first black Latin major-leaguer

A 1962 Sporting News cartoon lampooning the "broken English" of Cuban-born Minnie Miñoso, a typical example of the cultural insensitivity of the period

Puerto Rico's Roberto Clemente, the first Latin Hall of Famer, felt the full force of intolerance during his career. For Clemente, once labeled "Bob," fame eventually brought respect for his Latin identity. But others often had to accept cultural distinctions in order to be embraced by American fans.

Baseball cards featuring Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder: "Bob" Clemente, 1961; "Bob" Clemente, 1966; Roberto Clemente, 1973