|THE BEST FOREIGN-BORN PLAYERS|
There have been more than 100 persons voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their playing ability and not one was born in a foreign country. It is true that Harry Wright was born in England, but he was selected as a baseball pioneer and manager. In 1973, Roberto Clemente of Puerto Rico was the first player elected to the Hall of Fame from outside of the Continental U.S.
Yet there have been more than 450 players who were born in foreign countries, and some of them made outstanding contributions to what has been called the "National Game". They were included among the waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Great Britain. Canada, because of its proximity, continued to supply manpower throughout the history of major league baseball. Cuba and other Latin American nations were particularly strong after World War II. It might be appropriate at this point to designate the point of origin of all the foreign-born players through 1973, and also those born in U.S. possessions.
In the last few months the Society for American Baseball Research conducted a survey of its membership to determine who were the outstanding players born in selected foreign countries. Some countries were not included in the survey because there would be no basis for a contest. For example, the records would show that these were the outstanding players born in these countries:
Australia - Joe Quinn
Bahamas - Andre Rodgers
Czech.- Elmer Valo
Germany - Willie Kuehne
Holland - Bert, Blyleven
Italy - Reno Bertoia
Norway - John Anderson
Poland - Moe Drabowsky
Switz. - Otto Hess
We did take a vote on the best players born in certain other geographic areas, including U.S. possessions.
These were the results based on 63 ballots which were at least partially filled out:
As can be seen, Bobby Thomson rode his famous playoff home run into the top mark for Great Britain. He beat out oldtime 200-game winner Jim McCormick, who was also born in Scotland (rather than New Jersey as some old sources indicated). Austin was tops from Wales and Tom Brown, one of the great base runners, was first for England. Luis Aparicio was a unanimous choice from Venezuela, with Chico Carrasque1, Vic Davalillo, and Cesar Tovar not getting a nibble. Ferguson Jenkins was another modern who dominated the oldtimers, such as Tip O’Neill, one of the great stars of the old American Association.
In the final part of the. survey we asked who was the one outstanding player born in a foreign country. Voters were asked not to include Puerto Rico and the Virgin Isles in this compilation because they are U.S. possessions. There were indications from the marginal notes on the ballots that voters wanted to insert the name of Roberto Clemente. In fact, six voters voided that part of their ballot by writing in his name. Not counting those half dozen votes, here is how that contest turned out:
One of the voters had trouble selecting one all-time leader and divided his vote between Marichal, Carew, and McCormick. This pointed up the fact that voters had some problem selecting between pitchers and regular players, and moderns and oldtimers. It is interesting to note that the two players who captured most of the votes -- Juan Marichal and Luis Aparicio -- are now teammates on the Boston Red Sox.