February 10, 2012 7:54 am
In the early 1960s, Baseball feared the rising number of Latinos in the game, but in this area, at least, the game has been a positive example for tolerance.
Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto played second and third base for the Pirates and Dodgers in the 1930s and 40s and remains known for delivering one of the great moments in World Series history, the pinch-hit double that broke up Bill Bevens’ no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1947 World Series. Ironically, it was his last hit in the majors—not even Ted Williams got a police escort off the field after his last hit. After being cut by the Dodgers, Lavagetto played for some excellent Pacific Coast League teams with his hometown Oakland Oaks, including the 1948 league champions, then went on to a long career as a coach and manager.
Lavagetto was the last manager of the original Washington Senators and the first manager of the Minnesota Twins. It was in the latter capacity that he gave the 1961 interview, titled “The Challenge from Latin-America” in Baseball Digest. Author Dick Gordon wrote:
While there were only 45 Latins (or seven percent of the of the total) on major league rosters this spring, the number is steadily increasing. And the fact that there are an estimated 500 of them in organized ball already indicates the threat of a Castro etc. “invasion” not by soldiers armed with rifles but by athletes with rifle arms.
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