National Hispanic Heritage Month officially began on September 15. The exponential growth of the Latin American population and culture in the United States has generated significant changes in the American sports world. From Major League Baseball to Major League Soccer, Hispanic athletes have consistently been making their mark. Latin America has produced some of the most influential players in history (think David Ortiz, Roberto Clemente). Let’s take a look at some of the biggest names today:
The Venezuelan superstar has climbed to the top of the home runs table, totaling 49 as of last week. The 31-year-old is everything Dodgers fans want in a catcher. He also leads the league in runs batted in.
Perez isn’t the only 31-year-old Venezuelan baseball player making an impact on the league. José Altuve continues to shine at second base in his tenth year playing with the Houston Astros. Standing at 5’ 6’’, he’s one of the shortest players in the league. But height doesn’t seem to be a factor for Altuve; he has accumulated several awards throughout his career and continues to be a vital part of the Astros lineup.
Fernando Tatis, Jr.
It’s probably safe to say Fernando Tatis, Jr., shortstop for the San Diego Padres, is the face of baseball’s future. At just 22 years old, Tatis has made some incredibly athletic plays this season and has hit 42 home runs. Surely, there’s more to come from the young star.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
It’s hard to talk about Fernando Tatis, Jr. without mentioning the other flourishing youngster of the league, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. At 22, the Dominican-Canadian infielder for the Toronto Bluejays has managed to rack up 46 homers and 185 hits this season. That might explain his solid .313 batting average.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
The abundance of skill and influence emerging from Latin America extends beyond baseball. In Major League Soccer, Chicharito is shining bright for L.A. Galaxy. The Mexican forward is well known for his career in Europe, where he played for world famous teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid. Last year, the 33-year-old decided to take his talents to the United States when he signed a three-year deal with L.A. Since then, he’s definitely done his part. He has 12 goals this season and has been carrying his team all year.
The Seattle Sounders forward from Peru is a scoring machine. He has notched 16 goals this season, putting him second in the league behind D.C. United’s Ola Kamara. It took Ruidíaz only 14 games to tally 10 goals in his first season with the club, and since then, he hasn’t slowed down.