Lou Castro

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Note: This page discusses 1902 infielder Lou Castro. For others with a similar name, click here.

Luis Castro.jpg

Luis Joaquin Bonifacio Castro Vasquez

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Lou Castro played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902, hitting .245 with a home run in 42 games and 143 at bats. The following year, he hit .328 for the minor-league Baltimore Orioles, as a teammate of Hall of Famers Hughie Jennings and Wilbert Robinson. Luis was the earliest major leaguer by far with the last name Castro. The next in the American League or National League was Bill Castro, who came up in 1974, although near namesake Luis Castro played in the Negro Leagues in 1929 and is also considered a major leaguer. Since 2000, there have been numerous others with the last name in the majors, as the number of Latino players has increased significantly.

He was long considered the first major leaguer to be born in Colombia, as well as South America. His debut came 37 years before Alex Carrasquel became the second South American player. It is clear that Castro's family came from Colombia, but the question was whether Luis himself was born there, or in New York City where his family emigrated. In later years, he listed his place of birth as New York, including on a 1922 passport application and in the 1930 census, but this may have been part of an attempt to present himself as a born American, at a time when anti-immigrant feelings were high. A recently-uncovered passenger manifest from the S.S. Colon when it landed in New York City in 1885, originating from Colombia, includes a person whose biographical and family data matches what is known about Castro. He also gave a Colombian birth on his naturalization form, filled out in 1917 (which he would not have needed had he been born in New York). The citizenship application was denied, which may explain why he listed a New York birth in later years, trying to keep a low profile to avoid possible deportation. His family had been well-to-do in Colombia, where his father was a banker; his father sent the family to the United States because of chronic political instability and violence that threatened their safety.

Castro is listed as having been at Manhattan College between 1892-1901, when the institution was both a high school and post-secondary school. He came to the majors in 1902, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics. He was Danny Murphy's backup at second base that year, but was actually the player who replaced Napoleon Lajoie at the position when a court ruled that he could not play for the A's after breaking his contract with the National League's Philadelphia Phillies. He also managed in the minors in 1909 and 1912.

Sporting Life typically referred to him as Louis Castro. It reported in 1903 that he was a nephew of Venezuela's president Cipriano Castro, but that was a story created out of whole cloth by Castro himself: he was known as quite the entertainer, and it would have been in character for him to make up such a fib to hook an unsuspecting reporter. In any case, he denied the story in a later interview. His nickname "Jud" was short for "Judge".

Following his playing career, he worked at various odd jobs, many of them revolving around sports, such as refereeing boxing matches and running a skating rink and a motorcycle race track, but he eventually ran out of money. In 1926, he pleaded guilty to failing to file income tax returns from 1922 and 1923, and in 1937 he applied for financial assistance to the Association of Professional Baseball Players of America. He died in 1941 at the Manhattan State Hospital, a psychiatric facility. He was completely destitute and buried in an unmarked grave at Mount St. Mary's Cemetery, with an outstanding bill to his name to cover funeral costs left behind for any relatives to pay - but none ever showed up. It was only in 2020, through the efforts of New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, herself of Colombian background, and SABR's committee on 19th Century graves, that a proper monument was erected for him and the outstanding debt paid down. MLB, SABR members and other volunteers donated funds to make this happen. The monument reads: "First among the vanguard of Latin Americans who changed Major League Baseball forever."

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Playoffs Notes
1909 Augusta Tourists South Atlantic League 65-48 3rd Lost League finals
1912 Portsmouth Pirates Virginia League 65-63 4th

Further Reading[edit]

  • Anthony Castrovince: "Remembering Luis Castro, the first Latino in MLB: A forgotten trailblazer, found again", mlb.com, September 28, 2021. [1]

Related Sites[edit]