For a very long time, the expectation in the Major League Baseball (MLB) community was that Latino players would learn English upon arriving in the United States. This is still true, but there is now an added element to the communication game. According to an article in the Washington Post, many American baseball players are now making an effort to learn Spanish in order to better communicate with their Latino and Caribbean teammates.

Yo tambien hablo espaƱol

Spanish-speaking players made up more than 25 percent of Opening Day rosters this season. That included 102 from the Dominican Republic, 68 from Venezuela and 19 from Cuba. Many of these players are often signed as teenagers and, on top of having to excel at the game, are also expected to acclimatize to a foreign country and learn a new language. But now that more American players and staff are learning Spanish, both languages could meet in the middle, therefore improving the way people communicate inside the MLB community. This could also help create stronger and long lasting connections among players, and even help them get better at their game.

So, what are MLB franchises doing in order to promote Spanish among their players and staff? Some teams, such as The Red Sox, require Spanish classes for American players during fall instructional league. Other teams, like the Texas Rangers, have a new Spanish curriculum for first-year minor leaguers, while the Colorado Rockies teach the language in various ways.

Other teams are not at this level yet, however, some do offer voluntary Spanish education options, such as the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros, similarly, have software subscriptions for American players wanting to learn Spanish.

Also, the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves have classes for their front office and operations staff, and the Chicago White Sox hope to implement a Spanish program in 2020.  

2 Responses

  1. Hi,
    MLB fan here since 1959. It is my belief that foreign born baseball players should attend English speaking classes for a year. Even if they are in the Minor leagues or traded to other teams. Make it a must to speak in team meetings, dugouts and end of game conversations and interviews. English is the universal language in most of the world. This would help relations within the baseball world as well as in the Untied States itself. All of MLB should have a mandatory High School graduation and 1 year of an accredited college or university. The Major league draft is a joke. They select white and blacks kids into the potential league, but Hispanics are not part of the process. Still a fan always. Make some changes.
    Please let me know what you think of the above.

  2. Thanks very much for your feedback. This blog feels like a ghost town some days. I get your point, Mike, but these kids are hired as baseball players, so requiring 1 year of accredited college seems a little unreasonable. After all, are the same requirements applied to native English speakers? At the end of the day, we all have a job to do as a team, be it sports, the military, or a company. These institutions will all figure out the most effective way to work together as a team, working out communication issues along the way. If they don’t get it right, they will suffer; if they figure it out, it gives them a step up on their competition. I don’t follow the sport closely, so can’t comment about the draft process, so don’t really understand why Hispanics are not part of the process. Maybe you could elaborate? Saludos!

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