Players Who Broke the Country Barrier

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.

Country Player Year Position WAR
Afghanistan Jeff Bronkey 1993 RP 0.2
American Samoa Tony Solaita 1968 1B 7.8
Aruba Gene Kingsale 1996 CF -0.6
Atlantic Ocean Ed Porray 1914 SP -0.4
Australia Joe Quinn 1884 2B 1.6
Austria Kurt Krieger 1949 RP -0.4
Austria-Hungary Joe Koukalik 1904 SP 0.1
Bahamas Andre Rodgers 1957 SS 4
Belgium Brian Lesher 1996 LF -1.2
British Honduras Chito Martinez 1991 RF 1.8
Canada Bob Addy 1871 RF 3.3
Canal Zone Pat Scantlebury 1956 RP -0.3
China Harry Kingman 1914 1B 0
Colombia Lou Castro 1902 2B -0.6
Cuba Steve Bellan 1871 3B -0.7
Curacao Hensley Meulens 1989 LF -1.8
Czechoslovakia John Stedronsky 1879 3B -0.2
Denmark Olaf Henriksen 1911 OF 2.1
Dominican Republic Ozzie Virgil 1956 3B -1.1
Finland John Michaelson 1921 RP -0.1
France Larry Ressler 1875 RF -0.5
Germany George Heubel 1871 RF -0.1
Greece Al Campanis 1943 2B -0.3
Guam John Hattig 2006 3B 0.2
Honduras Gerald Young 1987 CF 5.1
Indonesia Tom Mastny 2006 RP -0.5
Ireland Andy Leonard 1871 LF 7.6
Italy Lou Polli 1932 RP -0.9
Jamaica Chili Davis 1981 CF 37.2
Japan Masanori Murakami 1964 RP 1.1
Mexico Mel Almada 1933 CF -1.6
Netherlands Rynie Wolters 1871 SP 0.9
Nicaragua Dennis Martinez 1976 SP 46.9
Norway John Anderson 1894 OF 27.4
Panama Humberto Robinson 1955 RP 2.3
Philippines Bobby Chouinard 1996 RP 1.4
Poland Henry Peploski 1929 3B -0.1
Puerto Rico Hi Bithorn 1942 SP 3.7
Russia Jake Gettman 1897 RF -0.3
Saudi Arabia Craig Stansberry 2007 2B 0
Singapore Robin Jennings 1996 RF -1.5
South Korea Chan Ho Park 1994 SP 16.3
South Vietnam Danny Graves 1996 RP 5.8
Spain Al Cabrera 1913 SS 0
Sweden Charlie Hallstrom 1885 SP -1.1
Switzerland Otto Hess 1902 SP 5
Taiwan Chin-Feng Chen 2002 LF -0.2
United Kingdom Harry Wright 1871 CF 1
Venezuela Alex Carrasquel 1939 RP 4.5
Virgin Islands Joe Christopher 1959 RF -0.3
Wales Pete Morris 1884 SS -0.1
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.


3 Comments on “Players Who Broke the Country Barrier”

  1. dianagram says:

    Well, you saved me from writing a piece on the Swedish-born players in MLB history, which I’ve had saved in “draft” form for a while.


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