Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pop Quiz: What Do Hensley Meulens, Tom Mastny, and Chan Ho Park Have In Common?

Early in David Maraniss' biography on Roberto Clemente, the author provides some background for Clemente's rise to fame by briefly discussing the Puerto Rican stars who came before him: Hiram Bithorn, the first Puerto Rican native to play in the major leagues; Luis Olmo, the catcher and future scout who joined him the following season; and Vic Power, formerly Victor Pellot, the first baseman who probably should have been the New York Yankees first black player.

The mention of Bithorn started the wheels turning (I even pulled out a pen and wrote a note on my hand so I would remember to do this later): baseball in the United States has always had a global flavor to it. According to records at Baseball-Reference.com, players from 56 foreign countries have played professionally since 1871. The list below contains the first (and, in some cases, only) player from each of those countries.

My favorite player on this entire list, by far? The first one, right at the top, Ed Porray - the only player in major league history to be born on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It's somehow fitting that he played his entire career in the Federal League. One of these days, I'll have to do some digging and find the circumstances surrounding his arrival, if possible.

A quick note on the formatting: if the name of the country is hyperlinked, then that country has its own BR.com page. Clicking the link will allow you to see everyone from that specific place. If there is no link, then the player is listed on this page.

(The date listed is the date of the player's major league debut.)

A Ship on the Atlantic Ocean - Ed Porray (unknown); April 17, 1914
Afghanistan - Jeff Bronkey (Kabul); May 2, 1993
American Samoa - Tony Solaita (Nuuuli); September 16, 1968
Aruba - Gene Kingsale (Solito); September 3, 1996
Australia - Joe Quinn (Sydney); April 26, 1884
Austria - Kurt Krieger (Traisen); April 21, 1949
Austria-Hungary - Joe Koukalik (unknown); September 1, 1904
Bahamas - Andre Rodgers (Nassau); April 16, 1957
Belgium - Brian Lesher (Wilrijk); August 25, 1996
British Honduras - Chito Martinez (Belize City); July 5, 1991
Canada - Tom Smith (Guelph, Ontario); September 15, 1875
Canary Islands - Al Cabrera (unknown); May 16, 1913
China - Harry Kingman (Tientsin); July 1, 1914
Colombia - Orlando Ramirez (Cartagena); July 6, 1974
Cuba - Steve Bellan (unknown); May 9, 1871
Curacao - Hensley Meulens (Willemstad); August 23, 1989
Czechoslovakia - John Stedronsky (unknown); September 25, 1879
Denmark - Olaf Henriksen (Kirkerup); August 11, 1911
Dominican Republic - Ozzie Virgil (Monte Cristi); September 23, 1956
England - George Hall (Stepney) and Harry Wright (Sheffield); May 5, 1871
Finland - John Michaelson (Taivalkoski); August 28, 1921
France - Larry Ressler (unknown); April 26, 1875
Germany - George Heubel (unknown); May 20, 1871
Greece - Al Campanis (Kos); September 23, 1943
Guam - John Hattig (Tamuning); August 19, 2006
Honduras - Gerald Young (Tela); July 8, 1987
Indonesia - Tom Mastny (East Bontang); July 30, 2006
Ireland - Andy Leonard (County Cavan); May 5, 1871
Italy - Lou Polli (Baveno); April 18, 1932
Jamaica - Chili Davis (Kingston); April 10, 1981
Japan - Masanori Murakami (Otsuki); September 1, 1964
Mexico - Mel Almada (Huatabampo, Sonora); September 8, 1933
Netherlands - Rynie Wolters (Schantz); May 18, 1871
Netherland Antilles - Jair Jurrjens (Curacao); August 15, 2007
Nicaragua - Dennis Martinez (Granada); September 14, 1976
Norway - John Anderson (Sarpsborg); September 8, 1894
Okinawa - Bobby Fenwick (Naha); April 26, 1972
Philippines - Bobby Chouinard (Manila); May 26, 1996
Poland - Henry Peploski (Garlin); September 19, 1929
Puerto Rico - Hiram Bithorn (Santurce); April 15, 1942
Panama - Humberto Robinson (Colon); April 20, 1955
Russia - Jake Gettman (Frank); August 20, 1897
Saudi Arabia - Craig Stansberry (Dammam); August 25, 2007
Scotland - Jim McCormick (Glasgow); May 20, 1878
Singapore - Robin Jennings (Singapore); April 18, 1996
South Korea - Chan Ho Park (Kongju); April 8, 1994
South Vietnam - Danny Graves (Saigon); July 13, 1996
Spain - Bryan Oelkers (Zaragoza); April 9, 1983
Sweden - Charlie Hallstrom (Jonkoping); September 23, 1885
Switzerland - Otto Hess (Bern); August 3, 1902
Taiwan - Chin-Feng Chen (Tainan City); September 14, 2002
Ukraine - Bill Cristall (Odessa); September 3, 1901

Virgin Islands - Joe Christopher (Frederiksted); May 26, 1959 (Though he was born in Puerto Rico, Valmy Thomas is often considered the majors' first Virgin Islander. His family was from St. Croix and he was raised there, but his mother traveled to Santurce and its better medical conditions to give birth. His debut was April 16, 1957.)

Venezuela - Alex Carrasquel (Caracas); April 23, 1939
Wales - Peter Morris (Rhuddlan); May 14, 1884
W. Germany - Rob Belloir (Heidelberg); August 2, 1975

2 Comments:

Juice said...

Why a seperate entry for Curacao and Netherlands Antilles, especially when the NA entry reference Curacao?

One More Dying Quail said...

Simple, Juice - because it confused me. I THOUGHT Curacao and Netherland Antilles were essentially the same place, but wasn't sure. Baseball-Reference has Jurrjens listed separately from the Curacao players, so I did the same.