By Laura Angélica Reyes
HHBMHOF Field Corespondent
Lou Castro was a man who broke barriers and was the first Latino to play in the Major Leagues. His real name was Luis Manuel Castro. This man was born in the city of Medellín, Colombia on November 25, 1876. Known in the field of baseball for being the first Latino to play baseball professionally, his story is an enigma to this day, because there are several versions. One of those enigma’s includes his real name, as several names have been found that are related to him. Many of the versions affirm that his name was Louis Michael Castro, and others say it was Luis Castro or Luis Manuel.
The life story of Lou Castro has several versions, the most well-known version affirms that Luis Manuel entered the United States at the age of 8 years. At the time of entering the country in the ship’s records they identify him as “Louis”. Thus showing the first of the changes in many records that makes it so difficult to know what his real name is.
Thanks to records found in The Society for American Baseball Research, it was possible to know a little more things about his history, showing that “Louis” is the son of a banker named Néstor Castro who, seeing the situation of political and economic instability that Colombia faced in the 1880’s, decided that his son stay in the United States. From there Louis was based in New York City. In 1891, Louis began to study at Manhattan College High School, that is where he began to play baseball, and became interested in this sport. His position on the field was a medium infielder, mainly shortstop, and outfielder.
By 1897 he began to play baseball as part of semi-professional teams located in New York City and New Jersey. For several years he continued to make his way in the world of baseball. During that time, he played for Utica of the New York State League, he also joined the Auburn team. In the period of 1899 He began to play in the semi-professional leagues. In 1900 he played only for semi-professional teams: for North Adams, Massachusetts, and Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1898. And he played for West New York, New Jersey, and North Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1899. He may also have played for Paterson, New Jersey. No longer in school, Castro joined Norwich from the Connecticut State League to start the 1901 season.
By 1902, with so much effort and dedication, the Major Leagues fixed their gaze on Castro causing him to sign with Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics, playing third base. He entered the team as a prop’s player, showing a good performance on the field. Although unfortunately his third base skills were not of the caliber of the big leagues. In total he played 42 games with the Philadelphia Athletics registering a batting average of .245 with a home run and 15 runs batted in, 35 hits, 18 runs scored, 8 doubles, 1 triple and two stolen bases with 143 at bats.
In 1905 Castro signed with Kansas City, then in 1906 he played with Nashville. It should be noted that although his career in Major League Baseball was not so extensive, “Loui Castro” is recognized for his attitude and charisma on the field, being one of the players who won over fans with his way of being. It should be noted that for “Louis Castro” it wasn’t easy since being Latino and an immigrant. However, he was still able and allowed to participate with professional baseball teams, and in learning to play this sport in America is why he is recognized for his dedication and effort that he had. Many remember him for his charisma and overwhelming personality, and that made this man be remembered on and off the field.