In the 1860s, a handful of Cuban students learned baseball at U.S. colleges. One joined the first professional league, the National Association, at its beginning. Soon, however, baseball excluded the majority of Latin Americans because of their skin color, just as it barred African Americans.
Cuban Esteban "Steve" Bellán, the first Latin professional ballplayer (1871 to 1873), returned home and later took part in Cuba's first pro league.
Bellán (top row, second from left) and the Troy Haymakers in 1871, the debut season for baseball's first pro league
Trophy ball from May 25, 1871, when Troy beat the New York Mutuals with Bellán at third base, his regular position