Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Whoever said jazz was all-American?

The twelve winners also showed the current player bias. Six of the twelve winners are still playing in professional baseball, and no winner played before 1955. However, the winners represented the various nations from which Latino ballplayers come, including four from the Dominican Republic, three from Puerto Rico, two from Panama, two from the United States, and one from Mexico. The two United States players, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, were actually listed under the Dominican Republic, even though both players spent most of their lives in New York, and Alex Rodriguez has actually lived in the United States his entire life. Edgar Martinez, representing Puerto Rico, has also been on the mainland for his entire life. Likewise, Albert Pujols, the first base Dominican Republican winner, actually went to high school in the United States and is a U.S. citizen.

The thinking behind these designations becomes evident when one reads a columnist’s words describing some Latinos: “That’s certainly true in the Yankee clubhouse, where Rodriguez mingled not with Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams, but with Jeter, Jason Giambi and Tino Martinez (who despite his Spanish surname is about as all-American as they come).” Tino Martinez is thought of as all-American, while Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera are not. Martinez was born to Cuban parents in Tampa, Florida, from the initial wave of immigrants in the 1960s. His light-skinned appearance and flawless English no doubt make him ‘all-American’, but the dark-skinned Bernie Williams speaks flawless English as well. Identity in professional baseball is as convoluted as it is in every other walk of life, which is how Martinez can somehow be all-American while jazz-playing, English-speaking, American citizen Bernie Williams does not get such a designation. There is little thought given to the racial identities given to players today, though skin tone plays a large role.

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