The Mexican Babe Ruth
- Updated: May 3, 2016
Hey baseball fans!
Obviously you’ve heard of Babe Ruth, possibly the best hitter in MLB history. You may have also heard of Josh Gibson, who is considered by many to be the best hitter in Negro Leagues history. However, have you heard of Hector Espino, arguably the best hitter in Mexico’s baseball history? Neither did I until I did some research, and boy he put up some stats that Ruth would applaud.
Espino started his baseball career in Mexico in the Mexican League in 1962 with Monterrey, when he hit 23 homers and batted .358 en route to winning Rookie of the Year. He also played winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League and, that winter, batted .402, a record that stood until he broke it ten years later. He took home the league’s MVP honors that year and the year after. Espino won his first summer league batting title in ’64, when he batted .371 while homering 46 times and driving in 117 earned runs. He was so feared throughout the league that he was intentionally walked a record 30 times and his 332 total bases that year were second in league history. All of these accolades made him a target for the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, who signed him later that year and sent him to the Triple A team. He did just fine there, but that was the last time he played professional baseball outside of Mexico.
Espino continued to hit the ball at an alarming pace, batting over .330 in each summer season from 1965-1968, but had an “off” year in ’69 when he “only” batted .304. 1970 was one of his least productive years in the summer, but Espino had a killer winter, winning his eighth Mexican Pacific League batting title and third MPL MVP, becoming the first player in league history to win more than two MVPs (and he would go on to win three more MPL MVPs in his career). Espino only batted under .300 in the 1970s once and finished his career in 1984.
Espino was eventually inducted into the Caribbean Hall of Fame, Salon de la Fama (Hall of Fame in Spanish) and was part of the first class of Latino Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 2010. In total, the Mexican slugger hit over 453 home runs during his career in the Mexican League and is one of two players in the Mexican Pacific League to have a lifetime batting average of .300 or better. It would have been great to see him play in the Majors (maybe even team up with Lou Brock in St. Louis), but it was also great that he got to play in front of him home fans. Thanks so much for reading this and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”