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State Senator Jessica Ramos unveiled a new headstone for the first Latino to play in Major League Baseball on Tuesday, July 20 at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery in Flushing.
Ramos independently wanted to find more Colombians from Queens who had made a big impact on society.
“Growing up in Queens, I didn’t really have a lot of Colombian Americans to look up to,” Ramos said. “I tried to do as much research as I could to find out if there was anyone here in Queens who had done something notable, which truly exemplifies our hard work, tenacity and dedication.”
After his research, Ramos met Luis Miguel Castro, the first Colombian to play in the major leagues. Castro made his debut for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902. He was born in Medellin, Colombia, in 1876, arrived in the United States in 1885, and died in 1941.
Major League Baseball helped Ramos unveil a new gravestone for Castro, who previously had an unmarked grave.
“He was a pioneer and paved the way for many other Latinos to be able to play baseball here in the United States,” Ramos said.
Major League Baseball historian John Thorn said Castro only played 42 games but paved the way for other Latino players. About 30 percent of all major league baseball players are Hispanic.
“In major league baseball, we are grateful for the contribution of players of Hispanic descent,” said Thorn. “They changed the game and changed the game to make it a better and more exciting game, a game more suited to the new millennium.”
Ralph Carhart, of the Society of American Baseball Research, said Castro continued to play in club games across the country and pursued other businesses throughout his life.
“At the time of his death, he was destitute. The bill for his funeral went unpaid until last year, ”Carhart said.
“Today we are not only celebrating the rich and full life of a true pioneer, but today we also recognize the contributions of the 26 Colombians who play in Major League Baseball,” said Carhart. “As well as the thousands of Latinos who have imprinted their playstyle deep into the fabric of modern gaming.”