BARRIO – Manager Kevin Cash didn’t realize until about halfway through the Rays’ 11-0 win over the Blue Jays that he’d made history with the lineup he wrote out this past Thursday afternoon.
And it didn’t hit catcher René Pinto until after the last out was recorded, when he was asked to pose for a picture on the field at Rogers Centre alongside the other eight position players who started for Tampa Bay, all of them hailing from Latin American countries and all of them wearing grey No. 21 jerseys on Roberto Clemente Day.
It was a fitting occasion for a historic moment, the first all-Latino starting lineup in Major League history on the day MLB celebrates the first Latin American player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was the first time all nine hitters in an MLB lineup were born in a Latin American country.
“That’s very good for the team and for every Latin player, and on this day it’s more special because it’s Roberto Clemente Day,” Ramírez said. “That happened on the right day. Everyone enjoyed it right after the game, because nobody knew.”
“We’re very happy, especially on a day like today,” Díaz added through interpreter Manny Navarro. “I think the Latinos are really putting a stamp on the game of baseball.”
So the lineup was designed to score runs (which it did), not necessarily to make history (which it also did). Now, that lineup card is on its way to Cooperstown, with a spot waiting in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that ’til halfway through the game; somebody mentioned it to me,” Cash said. “But it’s very surprising, at the same point, just because of the Latino community and the impact they’ve had on Major League Baseball for so many years — and extremely fitting to be on Roberto Clemente Day.”