State Senator Jessica Ramos unveiled a new tombstone for the first Latino to play in Major League Baseball on Tuesday, July 20, at Mount St. Mary Cemetery in Flushing.
Ramos independently wanted to find more Colombians from Queens that had made a great impact on society.
“Growing up in Queens, I didn’t exactly have too many 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 anything notable, who really exemplified our hard work, our tenacity and our dedication.”
After her research, Ramos came across 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, came to the U.S. in 1885 and died in 1941.
Major League Baseball helped Ramos unveil a new tombstone for Castro, who previously had an unmarked grave.
“He was a pioneer and paved the way for many more Latinos to be able to play baseball here in the U.S.,” Ramos said.
John Thorn, the Major League Baseball historian, said that Castro only played 42 games, but paved the way for other Latino players. About 30 percent of all major league baseball players are of Hispanic descent.
“We at major league baseball are grateful for the contribution of Hispanic-born players,” Thorn said. “They have changed the game and changed the game in ways that make it a better more exciting game, a game more suited to the new millennium.”
Ralph Carhart, from the Society of American Baseball Research, said that Castro went on to play in club games all over the country, and went on to other business ventures throughout his life.
“At the time of his death, he was destitute. The bill for his burial went unpaid until just last year,” Carhart said.
“Today we celebrate, not just 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,” Carhart said. “As well as the thousands of Latinos who have stamped their style of play deep into the fabric of the modern game.”