Tuesday, April 14, 2015

1995 Senadores de San Juan

I recently came across the article Remembering the '95 'Dream Team' by Gabrielle Paese from ESPN's MLB webpage and decided to look a little deeper into the Dream Team that made up Puerto Rico's selection for the 1995 Caribbean League World Series. 

Now consider that the 1994-1995 Caribbean League came right on the heels of the 1994 work stoppage that cancelled the 1994 season and World Series. So you can imagine how in Baseball mad places like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico the sight of real top level Baseball being played was like an oasis to a person lost in the desert. With the final series being held in Puerto Rico, the selection for the Puerto Rican team would have to be one of the best in history. Senadores manager Luis "Torito" Melendez didn't disappoint. Here was the starting lineup for the Senadores:
1B: Carmelo Martínez
2B: Roberto Alomar
3B: Carlos Baerga
SS: Rey Sanchez
OF: Juan "Igor" González
OF Bernabé "Bernie" Williams
OF: Rubén "El Indio" Sierra
C: Carlos Delgado
BD/DH : Edgar Martinez
You have one Hall of Famer in Alomar. A second one (in my opinion) in Edgar Martinez. A borderline third one in Carlos Delgado. A very underrated Bernie Williams, one of the feared sluggers of the era in Juan Gonzalez and defensive whizzes in Carlos Baerga and Rey Sanchez. A young Carlos Delgado was behind the plate, a postition that most fans don't remember he came up to the majors as before being moved to first base by the Toronto Blue Jays. Keep in mind that Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was not on the roster due to a knee injury. Or else he would have also been playing in this series.

The Puerto Rican dream team went undefeated in the tournament going 6-0 outscoring the opposition by a margin of 49-15. They were led by Series MVP Roberto Alomar who batted .560 with two home runs, 10 RBIs, 9 Runs scored, an .840 Slugging percentage and 2 Stolen bases. Bernie Williams hit .417 with three homers and a .875 slugging percentage, Juan Gonzalez hit .375 with a .667 slugging percentage and Edgar Martinez hit .375 with 9 RBI.

In terms of pitching, the team was led by Puerto Ricans Roberto Hernandez, Ricky Bones, Jose Alberro and imported pitchers Doug Brocail, Eric Gunderson and Chris Haney.

One point stands out to me in the article by Paese. In the article, veteran statistician, historian and journalist Jossie Alvarado is quoted as saying the following:
"I had never before seen a team that so wanted to represent Puerto Rico," said veteran statistician, historian and journalist Jossie Alvarado about the Senadores, who traded the club's name and played with Puerto Rico on their uniforms for the first time in Caribbean Series history. "The front office staff told me that no checks were ever cut for the major leaguers. They all waived any fees they could have charged just because they so wanted the chance to play for the island. It was that big a deal."
Its a shame that Baseball has been on the decline in Puerto Rico since then. There are many reasons such as Puerto Rican players being included in the player draft since 1990, the economics of the island that led to the disruption of play of the Puerto Rican league during the 2007-2008 season and interests in other sports such as Basketball and Boxing. With the possible opening of the Cuban baseball market in the near future, opportunities for Puerto Rican born players will continue to dwindle.

At least we can all look back on the 1995 Caribbean League Champion Senadores de San Juan to see what arguably the peak of Puerto Rican baseball is.

Hasta la próxima, nunca dejaremos de jugar el Beisbol,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Remembering the '95 'Dream Team' by Gabrielle Paese from ESPN's MLB webpage dated February 2, 2015
- El Dream Team de Puerto Rico aún despierta emociones by David Venn from El Puro Beisbol website dated February 5, 2014 
Puerto Rican Dream Teams from the My World of Baseball blogpage
Un equipo soñado y arrollador presentó Puerto Rico en 1995 by Diobert Tocuyo from El Tiempo Newspaper from Venezuela dated February 12, 2012
- Celebran 20 aniversario del Dream Team by David Venn from the Licey Baseball website dated February 4, 2015
1995 Caribbean Series from Baseball Reference