First Puerto Ricans in the Big Leagues

On December 16, 2020, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced that seven Organized Negro Leagues active between 1920 and 1948 constituted Major League Baseball.

  1. Negro National League (I) 1920-1931
  2. Eastern Colored League 1923-1928
  3. American Negro League 1929-1931
  4. East-West League 1932
  5. Negro Southern League 1932
  6. Negro National League (II) 1933-1948
  7. Negro American League 1937-1948

These seven new major leagues joined the six established in 1968 by the Special Committee on Baseball Records, bringing the total to thirteen.

  1. National League (1876 to present)
  2. American League (1901–present)
  3. American Association (1882-1891)
  4. Union Association (1884)
  5. League of Players (1890)
  6. Federal League (1914–15)

José “Gacho” Torres

Puerto Rican baseball history changed because Hiram Bithorn was no longer the first islander in the Major Leagues. The distinction goes to José “Gacho” Torres, a Rio Piedras-born player who saw action with the Newark Stars of the Eastern Colored League in 1926. However, Bithorn remains the first to see action in the National and American League. 

It is also important to note that for a player’s participation to be official in one of these seven leagues, a “box score” must certify it.

Next, the list of the first Puerto Rican players in the Major Leagues with the thirteen leagues merge.

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Photo colorization: Joe Torres

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