Latin American Baseball Collection
Campanella, Paige, Mays, Aaron, Koufax, Clemente, Cepeda, Gibson, Bench, Schmidt, Boggs, Ripken, Mattingly, Gwynn—all of these marquee Major Leaguers, and so many more, honed their skills in the Liga de Baseball Profesional de Puerto Rico (LBPPR). America's national pastime first arrived in the Puerto Rican capital city of San Juan in 1896 after migrating across the Caribbean Sea from Cuba. By 1938, six teams had formed the full-fledged Puerto Rican League, which has remained in continuous operation ever since. As Thomas E. Van Hyning recounts in his 1995 book Puerto Rico's Winter League: A History of Major League Baseball's Launching Pad, "The Puerto Rican experience ... enabled numerous players to get over the 'AAA hump' or get their big league careers back on track. From the early 1950s through the mid-1990s, Puerto Rican baseball was superior to AAA ball in the States. Former Negro Leaguers, top major league prospects and a smattering of current big leaguers on Puerto Rican rosters made this a competitive league." Of the six signed contracts individually presented in this collection, five feature distinguished charter members of the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 1991: Pedro Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Willard Brown, Bob Thurman and Orlando Cepeda.