Among Latino fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fernando Valenzuela is a baseball immortal. They remember or have heard of Fernandomania and how he filled Dodger Stadium with Hispanics as never before and changed baseball in the City of Angels.
But they are usually stunned to learn that Valenzuela, one of the teams all-time great pitchers and now starting another season as a Dodgers Spanish broadcaster, isnt in baseballs Hall of Fame.
Fernando, though, isnt the only Latino great missing from Cooperstown, which seems hard to believe today with Latinos such a dominant force in baseball, and with Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera having just signed the biggest contract in American pro sports history.
Cabrera, 30, the American League Triple Crown winner in 2012, appears headed to one day be in the Hall of Fame. But this raises the question of just which great Latino players other than Valenzuela arent in Cooperstown.
Here are VOXXI.coms Top Latino ballplayers who have been left out of the Hall of Fame:
A former third baseman and designated hitter of Puerto Rican descent, Martinez spent his entire 18-year Major League career with the Seattle Mariners of the Ken Griffey Jr. and young Alex Rodriguez years.
He had a .312 lifetime batting average with 309 home runs, but he likely suffers from traditional Hall of Fame voters not giving serious consideration to designated hitters, which Martinez mostly was.
Will that thinking change when David Ortiz comes up for consideration?
The Venezuelan infielder was an 11-time Gold Glove winner and three-time All-Star considered one of baseball’s all-time best fielding shortstops, having had his greatest seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
He had a career .272 batting average and was just 123 hits shy of the magical 3,000 when he retired in 2012.
Those stats are better than Hall of Fame second baseball Bill Mazeroski, who wasnt as good an infielder but rode his 1960 World Series-winning home run into Cooperstown.
If a game-winning hit overrides an average career, you would think Gonzo as he came to be known would be a Hall of Famer for his World Series-winning hit off Mariano Rivera when the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 2001.
The Cuban-American outfielder had a .283 career batting average, 354 homers and 2,591 hits, becoming a five-time All-Star.
But Diamondback managing general partner Ken Kendrick didnt do Gonzalez any favors in a 2006 interview in which mentioned whispers of alleged steroid use by Gonzo.
Gonzalez denied having done steroids, and he has never been linked to performance enhancing drugs in any of the investigations.
In his 19-season career, the Cuban righty who pitched for the Boston Red Sox and five other teams compiled a 229-172 record with 2,416 strikeouts, a 3.30 ERA, 187 complete games, and 49 shutouts in 3,486.1 innings.
Tiant is one of only five pitchers to have pitched four or more consecutive shutouts in the 50-year expansion era, with Don Drysdale (six, 1968), Bob Gibson (five, 1968), Orel Hershiser (five, 1988) and Gaylord Perry (four, 1970).
All but Tiant and Hershiser are in the Hall of Fame.
The Cuban left fielder and third baseman who played for 17 seasons from 1949 to 1980 was a nine-time All-Star player and three-time Gold Glover who formerly played in the Negro Leagues and was known in Mexicos winter baseball as “El Charro Negro.”
He hit .298 in his career and is one of only two players (the first, Nick Altrock, 1890s1930s) in Major League Baseball history to play in five decades.
He has come up for consideration in the Hall of Fame Golden Era Ballot held every three years. In 2011, Minoso fell short by three votes.
In that same Golden Era balloting, the Cuban right fielder and designated hitter who played his entire 15-year baseball career for the Minnesota Twins was four votes shy of induction.
His career average was .304, and he was a three-time batting champion, eight-time all-star and 1964 Rookie of the Year — becoming the first player to win both the Rookie of the Year Award and American League batting title.
He also had 220 home runs, 947 RBIs, 870 runs, 1,917 hits, 329 doubles, 48 triples, and 86 stolen bases in his career.
Oliva was elected to the All-Star game his first eight seasons, surpassing Joe DiMaggio’s previous record of six.
The Mexican screwball whiz set the baseball world afire with Fernandomania in 1981, winning his first 8 decisions and leading the Dodgers to the World Series title over the Yankees.
Valenzuela became the only player in history to win the Rookie of the Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season.
He was just 20.
Or was he? Or maybe he just pitched too much baseball in his native Mexico as well as in the majors where he was a workhorse. His best season was 1986, when he had a 2111 record with a 3.14 ERA, leading the league in wins, complete games and innings pitched.
He won 173 games in his career against 153 losses, becoming a six-time all-star and twice winning a Silver Slugger for his hitting.
He pitched 10 seasons for the Dodgers, throwing a no-hitter in 1990, and then seven more with five other teams.