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2013’s Big Moments in Latino Sports

It’s almost the end of 2013, which means it’s the time when publications look back on everything that happened this year and make a bunch of lists about it. Lists that reflect, remember, celebrate and make excessive use of GIFs, obviously. In this one, we take a look at some of the best moments in Latino sports this 2013. We begin in Oaxaca:

14. Barefoot Youth Basketball Team Wins Everything!

It’s a problem we see far too often in far too many countries: indigenous citizens living in poverty and squalor in their own land. It happens in Oaxaca, Mexico where the young protagonists of this story are from.

A group of pre-teen basketball players from the region (Rio Venado, to be more exact) shocked the world as they swept their competitors in six games to become the champions at this year’s International Festival of Mini-Basketball. The catch: most of the Trique/Triqui youth played barefoot as they are too poor to afford athletic shoes, much less ANY shoes.

The little dudes amazed everyone and have been rewarded with trips to the US to watch NBA games where they’ve met many NBA superstars. They even played a game against the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City who, in the spirit of the champions, also played barefoot.

Little dudes, big ambitions, and bigger hearts. How beautiful is that?

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13. Big Papi & Boston Red Sox Win The World Series

David “Big Papi” Ortiz cemented his status as the face of Boston twice this year. The first was when he gave that now-infamous speech on April 20th, the day after the second Boston bomber was captured. The second was when he and his fellow Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in six games to become MLB’s 2013 champions.

Big Papi also won a few awards this year because he’s a badass like that. He was an MLB All-Star, the World Series MVP, and was awarded both the Silver Slugger Award and the Edgar Martinez Award.

What would Puritan John Winthrop say about all this if he were resurrected today? Who cares?! This is Big Papi’s world. We just live in it.

Shoutout to all the other Latinos on the BoSox team such as Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villareal, and others who made the title run possible.

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12. Los Angeles Falls Under The Spell Of Puigmania

The Los Angeles Dodgers were looking pretty wack heading into the 2013 season. Too many of their stars were getting injured, no one really knew what they were doing, and the team quickly sunk to last place in the National League West Division. The team needed a miracle. That miracle arrived in a 6’3” frame known as Yasiel Puig.

Puig defected to Mexico from Cuba in 2012 and immediately filed paperwork as a Mexican resident in order to be eligible as a MLB free agent. The Dodgers signed him on June 28th thanks to the efforts of fellow Cuban and Dodger legend Mike Brito. Everyone thought the Dodgers had lost their mind. Oh, how they were mistaken.

Fast-forward nearly a year later to June 3rd when Puig made his official debut with the team. His first game was a modest one but then…DAMN!!! He hit two homeruns in his second game, a grand slam in his fourth followed by another homerun in his fifth game. This made him the first Dodger to start his career with multiple homeruns in one of his first two appearances.

That was just the beginning: he became the third player in league history to hit 10 RBIs in his first five games and was named the National League Player of the Week in his first week in the majors. His 27 hits in 15 games was two hits shy of shattering the league record and his success on the mound and on the field led the Dodgers to a team-record of 46 – 10 through the summer. The Dodgers skyrocketed out of last place and flew far ahead into first with the rest of the division playing catch-up. They made it to the semi-finals of the playoffs but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.

And then there were Puig’s many other “first” records as well. He was the first Dodger with five RBIs in two games, the first Dodger with 16 hits in eight games as well as the first with six multi-hit games in his first eight games.

He is also the first player in league history to win both the National League Rookie of the Month Award and the National League Player of the Month Award in his first month.

There’s a lot more…but you get the point.

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11. Henderson Álvarez And The No-Hitter, Walk-Off Win

September 29th was a funny one in the history of the Miami Marlins. The team was in last place and simply playing for the sake of playing. Their competitor that night was the first place Detroit Tigers who had already secured their playoff spot. As such, the Tigers sent out a team filled with “basics” onto the field.

Marlins pitcher Henderson Álvarez took advantage of the situation and went through nine scoreless, hitless innings against the Tigers. There was just one problem: his own team had also failed to put up an offensive fight and both teams were scoreless halfway through the ninth.

Thankfully for Álvarez, the Marlins did manage to win thanks to an error from Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen. The bases ended up loaded, Putkonen threw a pitch that went far astray from catcher Brayan Pena allowing Giancarlo Stanton on third base to run for home. The highlight reel should include the Benny Hill soundtrack if it doesn’t already.

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10. Carlos Beltran Receives The Roberto Clemente Award

The late and great Puerto Rican player Roberto Clemente died tragically on December 31, 1972. Clemente was famous for spending every off-season traveling to his homeland of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries to help supply them with various types of aid. The league decided to honor his memory and work by renaming the Commissioner’s Award to the Roberto Clemente Award in 1973.

This year’s recipient is also a boricua: Carlos Beltrán of the St. Louis Cardinals. He received it for his work with the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico, which he founded in 2011. The academy is designed with the young athlete in mind so they can receive a proper balance of academics alongside their athletic training. The academy hosted its first graduating class this year on June 10th.

Beautiful beisbol: truly América’s pastime.

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