22 Notable Latino Firsts in the History of Sports

It was a historic moment in the world of NASCAR this weekend. The association welcomed its first Latino driver - Puerto Rican Victor Gonzalez Jr. According to Fox News Latino, Gonzalez is the first Caribbean-born racer to drive a stock car in an official Sprint Cup race.

In honor of this historic NASCAR moment, we've rounded up 21 other notable Latino first moments in sports:

1. Latino Firsts in Sports: Esteban Bellan

Esteban Bellan

A Cuban baseball star that played for six seasons in the United States – three in the National Association of Base Ball Players and three in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players – Bellan joined the Troy Haymakers in 1869. He was the first Latino to play professional baseball in the U.S.


2. Latino Firsts in Sports: Adolfo Luque

Adolfo “Dolf” Luque

Luque was the first Latino to play in a World Series game. In 1919, he was the relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds against the Black Sox.  In 1967, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.


3. Latino Firsts in Sports: Alfonso Carrasquel

Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel

Carrasquel was from Caracas, Venezuela. He was the first Latino in MLB history to start in an All-Star game in 1951. Throughout his career, he played as a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles.


4. Latino Firsts in Sports: Luis Aparicio

Luis Aparicio

The first Latino to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, the Venezuelan-born shortstop played in MLB for 18 seasons – from 1956 to 1973.


5. Latino Firsts in Sports: Juan Marichal

Juan Marichal

Dominican-born former San Francisco Giants pitcher Marichal, who retired in 1975, was the first Latino player to pitch a no-hitter during a June 1963 game against the Houston Colt .45s. He was later named to ten All-Star teams.


6. Latino Firsts in Sports: Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente

Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico in 1934, Clemente was the first Latino to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was also the first Latino player to win a World Series as a starter, receive an MVP award and receive a World Series MVP award.


7. Latino Firsts in Sports: Arturo Moreno

Arturo “Arte” Moreno

In 2003, Moreno bought the Anaheim Angels, making him the first Latino owner of any major U.S. sports franchise. Two years later he renamed the team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


8. Latino Firsts in Sports: Lou Castro

Lou Castro

Born Luis Manuel Castro in Medellin, Colombia, Lou was the first Latin American born player to play in Major League Baseball. He made his MLB debut in April 1902 playing for the Philadelphia Athletics.


9. Latino Firsts in Sports: Abe Espinosa

Abe Espinosa

Born in 1889, Espinosa was the first Hispanic-American golfer and is best known for being the first Hispanic to win a PGA Tour at the 1928 Western Open.


10. Latino Firsts in Sports: Lou Molinet

Ignacio “Lou” Molinet

Cuban-born Molinet signed on to play in the NFL in 1927; making him the first Latino professional football player. He played for the Frankford Yellow Jackets and was paid $50 per game.


11. Latino Firsts in Sports: Rebecca Lobo

Rebecca Lobo

Retired Houston Comets player, Lobo, was the first Latina to play in the WNBA, joining the league in 1997. She played for the New York Liberty during her inaugural season.

12. Latino Firsts in Sports: Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey

The mixed martial artist became the first female to sign with the UFC in November 2012.

13. Latino Firsts in Sports: Al Cueto

Al Cueto

The Cuban-born former professional basketball player was the first Latino to be an NBA Draft pick in 1969. He was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics, but never joined the team. Although Cueto didn’t go on to play in the NBA, he did play two seasons in the American Basketball Association.

14. Latino Firsts in Sports: Joe Aguirre

Joe Aguirre

In 1941, Aguirre was the first Latino to join the NFL based off an NFL draft pick. He was the 100th pick during round 11 of the draft.

15. Latino Firsts in Sports: Tom Flores

Tom Flores

A retired quarterback and football coach, Flores was the first Latino starting quarterback. He was also the first minority head coach in professional football history to win a Super Bowl.

16. Latino Firsts in Sports: Jim Plunkett

Jim Plunkett

The Mexican-American former NFL Quarterback was the first Latino to be the number one pick during round one in an NFL draft. He was drafted in 1971 to play for the New England Patriots.

17. Latino Firsts in Sports: Tom Fears

Tom Fears

Former NFL Wide Receiver Fears was the first Latino to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1970. In 1967, he became the first Latino head coach of an NFL team.

18. Latino Firsts in Sports: Pancho Gonzalez

Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez

In 1948, tennis player Gonzalez became the first Latino Grand Slam championship winner. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

19. Latino Firsts in Sports: Nancy Lopez

Nancy Lopez

Golfer Lopez became the first Latina LPGA Hall of Fame inductee in 1987.  In 1978, she became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year Award, Player of the Year Award and the Vare Trophy all in the same season.

20. Latino Firsts in Sports: John Ruiz

John Ruiz

The Puerto Rican boxer became the first Latino heavyweight champion in 2001 after defeating Evander Holyfield.

21. Latino Firsts in Sports: Scott Gomez

Scott Gomez

The 33-year-old hockey player was the first Latino to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft pick in 1998.