In her incisive study Baseball as Mediated Latinidad: Race, Masculinity, Nationalism, and Performances of Identity
(Ohio State University Press, 2020), Jennifer Domino Rudolph
analyzes major league baseball’s Latin/o American players—who now make up more than twenty-five percent of MLB—as sites of undesirable surveillance due to the historical, political, and sociological weight placed on them via stereotypes around immigration, crime, masculinity, aggression, and violence. Rudolph examines the perception by media and fans of Latino baseball players and the consumption of these athletes as both social and political stand-ins for an entire culture, showing how these participants in the nationalist game of baseball exemplify tensions over race, nation, and language for some while simultaneously revealing baseball as a practice of latinidad,
or pan-Latina/o/x identity, for others. By simultaneously exploring the ways in which Latino baseball players can appear both as threats to American values and the embodiment of the American Dream, and engaging with both archival research and new media representations of MLB players, Rudolph sheds new light on the current ambivalence of mainstream American media and fans towards Latin/o culture.
David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.