Boricuas in sports have had a major growth over the past sev­er­al decades. This growth spans across the var­i­ous sports i.e. base­ball, soc­cer, and box­ing, but there has not been such a big growth and influ­ence to any sport as that which base­ball has had. The pres­ence of Lati­nos (Boricuas ) in base­ball has grown into all lev­els of the sport from play­ers to Coach­es, Man­agers and even to Gen­er­al Man­agers. I will be writ­ing about the sport stars of the past and present which have made a major con­tri­bu­tions and sac­ri­fice to their sport.

Bob ClementeROBERTO CLEMENTE

Rober­to Clemente left his mark on base­ball with a style of play rarely seen in mod­ern base­ball.  Clemente came to a club that had suf­fered through three straight 100-loss sea­sons.  He was not an imme­di­ate super­star, although his bril­liant field­ing abil­i­ty and rifle arm were appar­ent from the begin­ning.  He would even­tu­al­ly earn 12 Gold Gloves as a right field­er and set a ML record by lead­ing the NL in assists five times.  In 1960 Rober­to Clemente began a streak of eight con­sec­u­tive sea­sons in which he bat­ted no less than .312.  He made the first of his 14 All-Star appear­ances in the two 1960 games.  That year, He hit safe­ly in every game of the World Series against the Yan­kees, bat­ting .310.  In Game  Sev­en,  he kept an eighth-inning ral­ly alive with a hus­tling infield sin­gle, set­ting up a go-ahead homer by Hal Smith.  But Clemente nev­er wore his 1960 Cham­pi­onship ring. He fin­ished eighth in the NL MVP vot­ing, though he’d led the Pirates with 94 RBI; he wore his 1961 All-Star ring instead.

Clemente won the first of four NL bat­ting titles with a .351 mark in 1961. For the next sev­er­al years, he was con­sis­tent­ly bril­liant.  In the out­field, he would track down every ball in range, often mak­ing spec­tac­u­lar div­ing or leap­ing catch­es,  he used the bas­ket catch made famous by Willie Mays. At bat, Clemente seemed for­ev­er uncom­fort­able, always rolling his neck and stretch­ing his back. Stand­ing deep in the box.  His base run­ning  style was marked by effort and deter­mi­na­tion,  with arms and legs pump­ing and hel­met often fly­ing off.  Clemente won two more bat­ting titles in 1964 (.339) and 1965 (.329). his career-high 29 HR and 119 RBI helped him win the MVP award. In 1967 he cap­tured his fourth bat­ting crown with a .357 aver­age, his best year ever.  When Pitts­burgh met Bal­ti­more in the 1971 World Series. Clemente played like a man pos­sessed,  chas­ing down fly balls, bat­ting .414 with 12 hits and two home runs, one in Pittsburgh’s Game Sev­en vic­to­ry, and win­ning the Series MVP award.

On Sep­tem­ber 30, 1972, Rober­to Clemente drove a dou­ble off Met pitch­er Jon Mat­lack at Three Rivers Sta­di­um for his 3,000th career hit.  His .312 aver­age that year marked his 13th .300 sea­son and he was at or near the top of every bat­ting cat­e­go­ry in Pirate his­to­ry. On New Year’s Eve of 1972,  Clemente board­ed a DC-7 loaded with relief sup­plies for earth­quake vic­tims in Man­agua, Nicaragua. Short­ly after take­off, the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, a mile off the Puer­to Rican coast.  There were no sur­vivors. The five-year manda­to­ry wait­ing peri­od for Hall of Fame eli­gi­bil­i­ty was waived and Clemente was induct­ed in 1973.  The Pirates retired his uni­form,  num­ber 21.

Javier VazquezJAVIER VAZQUEZ

Javier Vazquez was born on Sun­day, July 25, 1976, in Ponce, Puer­to Rico. Vazquez was 21 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 3, 1998, with the Mon­tréal Expos and played on the team until 2003, dur­ing this time he became an ace for the Expos. On Decem­ber 16,  Javier was trad­ed to the New York Yan­kees in a four year deal in exchange for three play­ers.  After only one sea­son with the Yan­kees,  he was once again trad­ed this time to the Ari­zona Dia­mond­backs for Randy John­son.  But after only two sea­sons,  he request­ed to be trad­ed to be clos­er to his fam­i­ly in Puer­to Rico.  He got his wish because on Decem­ber 2005,  he was trad­ed to the Chica­go White Sox for Orlan­do Her­nan­dez.  While pitch­ing  for the White Sox,  Vazquez agreed to play for the Puer­to Rico team in the 2006 World Base­ball Clas­sic,  where he joined oth­er Puer­to Rican play­ers, Car­los Del­ga­do, Car­los Bel­tran and  Bernie Williams on a team Man­aged by Jose Oquen­do.  On Decem­ber 4, 2008 Vazquez was trad­ed to the Atlanta Braves in a five play­er deal.  Javier is mar­ried to Kamille Vazquez and they have two chil­dren Kamil­la and Javier Josue. I start­ed col­lect­ing  Javier Vazquez base­ball cards in 2000 after I found out that he shared my last name and was born in Ponce, Puer­to Rico.

cheguiJOSE (CHEGUI) TORRES

Trained and man­aged by the savvy Cus D’amato, Chegui, being a good and sol­id boxer/puncher, won 41 out of his 45 bouts, 12 of which were by deci­sion and 29 by knock­out. He became the first Lati­no ever to win the light-heavy­weight cham­pi­onship in 1965 when he beat Willie Pas­tra­no in nine rounds at Madi­son Square Gar­den. D’Amato kept an eye on Tor­res when he saw him win a sil­ver medal in the 1956 Olympics. He said “This kid will be a cham­pi­on, and it won’t take that long”.  Tor­res turned pro in 1956 and his box­ing style was D’Amato’s peek­a­boo tech­nique. It seemed awk­ward, but it worked, even for Pat­ter­son who gained the heavy­weight cham­pi­onship title. Of his first 28 fights, only one was a draw, but the rest he won.  In 1963 Chegui fought Flo­renti­no Fer­nan­dez, but he lost by knock­out. He wasn’t in the least dis­cour­aged from that loss. He came back and won a deci­sion against Don Fullmer and he knocked out Carl (Bobo) Olson in the first round.

Way before Tor­res thought about hang­ing up his gloves, he want­ed one big score, so he decid­ed to chal­lenge Muhammed Ali, of all peo­ple.  At a big box­ing lun­cheon and Chegui’s long time friend and reporter, Bill Gal­lo, was there. Gal­lo and oth­er reporters watched as Chegui who was 5′10″ go up to Muhammed Ali who was 6′10″ say­ing, “C’mon man, you and me, I need a good pay­day. We’ll pack them in.” Ali nev­er answered him, but he did turn to his wife Ramoni­ta, and say, “Okay, but you have to feed him a lot of rice and beans, only then can I make mon­ey for your man.” Tor­res and Ali nev­er fought.  Tor­res became a writer after his box­ing days and was the first His­pan­ic colum­nist to write for The Post. His arti­cles weren’t about sports, but about life in El Bar­rio. He also became the first His­pan­ic ever to chair the New York State Ath­let­ic Com­mis­sion.  Jose Tor­res died of a heart attack at his home in Ponce, Puer­to Rico at the age of 72. He was revered both in Span­ish Harlem and in Puer­to Rico, which has declared three days of mourn­ing for him.

Miguel CottoMIGUEL COTTO

Miguel Ãngel Cot­to (born Octo­ber 29, 1980 in Caguas, Puer­to Rico is a Puer­to Rican pro­fes­sion­al box­er.  As an ama­teur, Cot­to rep­re­sent­ed Puer­to Rico in the light­weight and light wel­ter­weight divi­sions at var­i­ous inter­na­tion­al events includ­ing the 1999 Pan Amer­i­can Games, the 2000 Sum­mer Olympics and the 1998 Junior World Cham­pi­onships where he won a sil­ver medal. Cot­to began his pro­fes­sion­al career in 2001, and on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2004, he defeat­ed Kel­son Pin­to for the WBO junior wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship. He defend­ed the title suc­cess­ful­ly a total of six times, before vacat­ing it when he ascend­ed to the wel­ter­weight divi­sion. On his first match on this divi­sion he defeat­ed Car­los Quin­tana for the vacant WBA wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship. Cot­to suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ed this title against Oktay Urkal, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Alfon­so Gomez, before los­ing it Anto­nio Mar­gar­i­to.  On Feb­ru­ary 21, 2009, he defeat­ed Michael Jen­nings to win the vacant WBO wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship.

Tito TrinidadFELIX (TITO) TRINIDAD

Félix ‘Tito’ Trinidad, Jr. (born Jan­u­ary 10, 1973) is a Puer­to Rican pro­fes­sion­al box­er, con­sid­ered as one of the best box­ers in that archipelago’s his­to­ry. When he was an ama­teur Trinidad won five Nation­al Ama­teur Cham­pi­onships in Puer­to Rico. He debuted as a pro­fes­sion­al when he was 17 years old and won the first world cham­pi­onship in his career when he defeat­ed Mau­rice Block­er for the Inter­na­tion­al Box­ing Federation’s wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship. Dur­ing his career he fought Oscar De La Hoya win­ning the World Box­ing Council’s wel­ter­weight championship,Fernando Var­gas in a uni­fi­ca­tion fight where he won the Inter­na­tion­al Box­ing Federation’s light mid­dleweight title, and William Jop­py for the World Box­ing Association’s mid­dleweight cham­pi­onship. He lost to Bernard Hop­kins , by tech­ni­cal knock­out and retired for the first time. Trinidad returned to action in a fight against Ricar­do May­or­ga and fol­low­ing a fight against Winky Wright retired a sec­ond time. In 2008, he returned to the ring to fight Roy Jones , los­ing the con­test by unan­i­mous deci­sion.

Félix Trinidad was born in Fajar­do, Puer­to Rico, to Irma Gar­cía and Félix Trinidad Senior. Dur­ing his child­hood the fam­i­ly moved to Cupey Alto, a sub­di­vi­sion of San Juan, Puer­to Rico, where he grew up Trinidad began box­ing at the age of 12 after receiv­ing train­ing by his father, who was a for­mer nation­al cham­pi­on in the feath­er­weight divi­sion. Over the course of his ama­teur career, Trinidad com­piled a record of 51 wins and six loss­es with 12 knock­out vic­to­ries. Dur­ing this peri­od he won five Puer­to Rican Nation­al Ama­teur Cham­pi­onships, in five dif­fer­ent weight divi­sions (100, 112, 119, 126 and 132 pounds)

WILFREDO BENITEZ

ORLANDO MELENDEZ

CARMELO ANTHONY