Until the Toronto Blue Jays visited Boston to face the Red Sox at Fenway Park today, there had never been a Major League Baseball game in which both teams were led by Puerto Rican managers.
It was a long time coming.
The first Puerto Rican to play in the US big leagues, Hiram Bithorn, pitched for the Chicago Cubs in 1942. In the 77 seasons since, more than 250 players who were born on the island or trace their heritage to it have followed in his footsteps. More than two dozen are playing this season.
Five Puerto Rican stars—Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepada, Roberto Alomar, Ivan Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez—are in baseball’s Hall of Fame. The first Puerto Rican manager, Edwin Rodriguez, led the Florida Marlins in 2010.
The ceremony marking the first home game for the Red Sox this season was emotional for Alex Cora, a former player who led the Red Sox to victory in the 2018 World Series, his first season as manager; and Charlie Montoyo, who became the game’s fourth Puerto Rican manager when he was hired by Toronto for 2019.
Ahead of the game, Montoyo told ESPN, “Let me tell you sincerely, when they gave me the job, the first thing I thought was, ‘When do we play against Boston, against the other Puerto Rican?’ I’m so proud of [Cora]. I get goosebumps just thinking about the many Puerto Ricans that are going to be in Boston, waving the Puerto Rican flag.”
During the World Series, Cora also praised the Blue Jays for hiring Montoyo, who was a coach for Puerto Rico’s national team when Cora played in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
“I’ve been saying it for five or six years: This is not about minorities,” Cora said. “It’s not about him being Latino or Puerto Rican. Charlie Montoyo is a great baseball man.”