The teams representing both leagues in the 2012 World Series have combined to set another record in addition to lengths of brutish beards and severely low television ratings.
The San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers selected a combined record number of foreign-born players for their World Series rosters. The Giants and Tigers each had 10 players born outside the U.S. on their 25-man rosters, announced before Game 1. The total of 20 is the most ever in a World Series, according to research by Major League Baseball.
The previous record of combined players of foreign-descent to appear in the World Series was 17, set in 2010 when the Giants defeated the Texas Rangers.
This year, all 20 players were born in Latin American countries, headlined by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for Detroit and this year's playoff hero and NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro for San Francisco. Both hail from Venezuelan cities.
"It is definitely a reflection of the progress we have made in the world of baseball," said Tito Avila, founder of The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum, which was established in San Francisco in 1999 to recognize the contributions made to baseball by its Hispanic players. "To have that amount is incredible."
Nine players were born in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, along with two in Puerto Rico. Giants reliever Sergio Romo (Mexican) and Tigers catcher Alex Avila (Cuban) were born in the U.S. to Latino parents. When the two are added to the list, roughly half of all players (22 of 50) in this World Series are of Latin American descent.
Tito Avila was not surprised by which Latin countries the majority of the players came from.
"Today, when you look at Puerto Rico, it is part of the U.S.," he said. "Therefore, more kids grow up playing basketball and football, but in some of these other countries, baseball is still the only sport kids play. Baseball is the national game of Venezuela."
As of 2011, players of Latin descent made up nearly 30 percent of MLB players, and that figure has not been lower than 26 percent since 1999, according to research done by the Institute for Diversity and Ethnics in Sport.
Of course, players who were not white were not allowed to play in the majors until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. The likes of Minnie Minoso, Roberto Clemente and others followed. The growth of the number of Latino players in the big leagues can be attributed to different factors.
"A player from D.R. [the Dominican Republic], for example, is a whole lot cheaper than someone from the U.S.," Avila said. "There are also more academies that have been built in Latin countries. Fernando Venezuela [during the 1980s] opened the door for a lot players after he had success."
In 1981, Valenzuela became the only player in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young award in the same season. For good measure, his Dodgers won the World Series that year.
Latino players have already made their presence felt during the first two games of the World Series and will no doubt continue to make an impact.
Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela) set his mark in Game 1 with three home runs, and Romo pitched a scoreless ninth inning to secure a 2-0 series lead for the Giants. Anibal Sanchez (Venezuela) will -- for better or worse -- make an impact as well, being Detroit's Game 3 starter.