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Cuban Baseball

Esteban Bellan

Esteban Bellan was the first Cuban and the first Latin American to play major league baseball. Bellan, who after playing in the United States, became one of Cuba's first great baseball player-managers, learned how to play the game while he was a student at Fordham University from 1863-1868. During his time at Fordham, Bellan played for the newly created Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club. Founded in the late 1850's, the Fordham Rose Hill's played the first ever nine-man team college baseball game in the United States against St. Francis Xavier College on November 3, 1859.

Bellan was born in Havana, Cuba in 1850. As was common among wealthy Cuban-Catholic families, Bellan and his brother were sent to the United States to study at Fordham, a Jesuit institution. In 1868, after his time at Fordham, Bellan (who went by "Steve") played for the Unions of Morrisania, a New York team. In 1869 Bellan joined the Troy Haymakers for whom he played third base until 1872. In 1871 the Haymakers joined the National Association, which became the National League in 1876. The Haymakers later became the New York Giants, now the San Francisco Giants.

After his time with the Haymakers, Bellan played a year with the New York Mutuals and then returned to Cuba. On December 27, 1874 Bellan played in the first organized baseball game in Cuba. From 1878-1886 he served as both a player and manager for the recently founded Habana baseball team. He led Habana to multiple Cuban baseball championships (1878-9, 79-80, and 82-83). Though it is known that Bellan died on August 8th, 1932, little else is known about the first Latin American to play major league baseball.


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