Mexican Baseball has been dwindling as of late due to the factor of Soccer being the more popular sport. As of April 1st, 2013, 14 different players from Mexico were on Major League Rosters. However, while Soccer is the national pastime of Mexico, they have a deep history in baseball as well. Some claim that Mexico’s baseball history started in Mazatlan in 1847, while others claim it was in other towns in 1887 or 1889.
The argument for 1847, which to me is believable, is that the Americans were trying to take control of Mexico, during the Mexican-American war. Like other histories, it makes sense that American armies shared baseball with the population they came to conquer, (Panama and Nicaragua are two other examples of Americans bringing in Baseball through military conquest).
The laying of the Monterrey-Tampico Railway played a large part in spreading the sport. As the railroad was being developed, so was the sport in Mexico during the 1800’s. While the sport spread, the professional leagues started much later, in 1925, when Alejandro Aguilar Reyes, a sportswriter, and Ernesto Carmona founded the Mexican Professional Baseball Leagues. During that time, they had six teams, and to bring in other talent, they started hiring Cuban players too dark for the majors to come into play in the league.
In the 1940s, Jorge Pasquel attempted to transform the Mexican major leagues into a larger arena. He started to hire prominent players from all over the place, including many Negro League stars, Cubans as before, and even brought in Major Leaguers into the mix to play. Orestes “Minnie” Minoso recalled, that he was offered $35,000 at 17 to play in the Mexican Leagues.
American ballplayers such as Max Linnear played in the Mexican Leagues as well while Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams refused. But, the American Major League administration was not as keen on sharing their players with Mexico, because of the lucrative deals that were luring them away. The apparent hi-jacking of the sport away from the Americans displeased even Branch Rickey, and Happy Chandler, the commissioner, decided to start banning the players that were signed from Major league teams for 5 years from baseball. This new rule made the Mexican League crumble, and Jorge Pasquel died in 1955.
With the league crumbling, Mexico’s new manager, Anuar Canavati worked out deals later with Major League Baseball as a minor-league option for teams, and also an option as a place to play in the winter for their Major League and Minor League stars going forward. It also became a place for scouts to look for up-and-coming Mexican players, and later recruit them to their teams. Canavati saved the league from completely falling apart at the hands of Major League Baseball.