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Who was the first Venezuelan born player who played on the Japanese Baseball League?
Good morning, I am writing to you because I would like to know if you can help me to know next:. Who was the first Venezuelan born player who played on the Japanese Baseball League?
I hope you can help me.
Caracas - Venezuela (South América)
Gary Garland's Response
First, thanks for reading Baseball Guru. Your question is a real tough one. I know who the first Venezuelan was in major league baseball (Alex Carrasquel, who came up with the Washington Senators in 1939). Also, to see who was the first player from a given foreign country in MLB, you can go to: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/firsts/first13.shtml
After a long search, My best guess as to who the first Venezuelan may have been was the great Roberto "Bobby" Marcano, who played second base with the Hankyu Braves (now the Orix Blue Wave) during that club's mid-70's golden period when they won three Japan Series in a row.
Marcano, born June 7. 1951, never played in the major leagues and went to Japan in 1975. Hankyu won the Japan Series that year as well as the next two. He is rated as one of the finer foreign players to ever put on a unifrom in Japan, batting .287 with 232 homers and 817 RBIs in 1313 games between 1975-1986. Our Jim Albright wrote highly of Mr. Marcano in his analysis of the great foreign players.
His best overall season was in 1978, when he batted .322 with 27 homers and 94 RBIs in 126 games. Bobby went up there hacking, walking less than 20 times a year in his first five seasons and only 224 times total. He won the RBI title that year. He was named to four Pacific League Best Nine teams and took home four Gold Gloves. He played eight seasons with Hankyu and then moved to Yakult, where he played three more. His career OPS was .810 (.322 OBP, .488 SLG).
Unfortunately, I seem to recall that he is no longer with us, having passed away shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.
Both Roberto Petagine and Alex Cabrera are tearing up Japan as we speak, as is Eddie Diaz. Edwin Hurtado has played there (with Orix after going over from Seattle). I'm not sure where he is nowadays. Giovanni Carrara has been to Japan as well.
As a side note, Makoto Suzuki was the first Japanese to play in the Venezuelan Winter League when he was still with the Mariners a few years ago.
Japanese baseball columnist, Baseball Guru
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