Spring training has started in Major League Baseball, and believe it or not, there are 130 players from Venezuela participating. Nearly 50 more sluggers from Venezuela are headed for independent leagues in the U.S. and other countries including Mexico, Italy and Japan.
These days, the highest-paid pitcher in the major leagues, Venezuela’s Johan Santana, is contracted for nearly $150 million.
Of course, the world of baseball was not always so extravagant.
The first Venezuelan ball player to enter the U.S. major leagues was pitcher Alex Carrasquel, a native of Caracas, who was hired by the Washington Senators in 1919. While Carrasquel never earned a fraction of what today’s star pitchers are worth, he did gave them big shoes to fill — back home, Carrasquel was known as “El Patón” (Bigfoot) because of his size-14 cleats.