Players Who Broke the Country BarrierPosted: December 13, 2011
If you’re like me, you’re sitting there thinking about the players who were the first to make the major leagues from the country where they were born. Well friend, your search is complete. Below you will find exactly that, along with what year they debuted, what position they primarily played and their total career bWAR. If you click on the name, it will take you to their baseball-reference page. This information comes from b-r’s wonderful place of birth page.
|American Samoa||Tony Solaita||1968||1B||7.8|
|Atlantic Ocean||Ed Porray||1914||SP||-0.4|
|British Honduras||Chito Martinez||1991||RF||1.8|
|Canal Zone||Pat Scantlebury||1956||RP||-0.3|
|Dominican Republic||Ozzie Virgil||1956||3B||-1.1|
|Puerto Rico||Hi Bithorn||1942||SP||3.7|
|Saudi Arabia||Craig Stansberry||2007||2B||0|
|South Korea||Chan Ho Park||1994||SP||16.3|
|South Vietnam||Danny Graves||1996||RP||5.8|
|United Kingdom||Harry Wright||1871||CF||1|
|Virgin Islands||Joe Christopher||1959||RF||-0.3|
|West Germany||Rob Belloir||1975||SS||-1.9|
Only one major league player was born in China and none in India. I find that pretty interesting. If a team could get a lot of interest there, they might be able to find some very good athletes.
I also ran into a cool story with Charlie Hallstrom, Sweden’s representative. He pitched in only one game and his line was 9 innings, 18 hits, 16 runs, 11 earned. He walked six and struck out zero. In one game he was worth -1.1 wins and he never played in the major leagues again.
A lot of these players are replacement-level types, but there are a few that stand out like Dennis Martinez, Chili Davis, John Anderson and Chan Ho Park.
Some of the countries like West Germany, the Atlantic Ocean and Canal Zone are not currently countries, but they are listed on b-r’s page, so I left everything that way.
As far as the first United States major league player, I’m not quite sure. The first game was on May 4, 1871 when the Fort Wayne Kekiongas hosted the Cleveland Forest Citys. Assuming the Forest Citys batted first, this would mean that the Kekiongas starting pitcher Bobby Mathews threw the first pitch and would thus be the first United States player in the history of Major League Baseball. Mathews accumulated a 16.1 career WAR.