Clemente headlines All-Time Latino Team

Clemente headlines All-Time Latino Team

Clemente headlines All-Time Latino Team
Los Angeles Dodgers Spanish broadcaster Jaime Jarrin doesn't remember whether the conversation took place on a bus ride to the team hotel, or if it occurred in the dugout at Dodger Stadium before a game.

The Hall of Fame radio man can't recall what year it happened, either, but he's certain he'll never forget the words that came out of out then-general manager Al Campanis' mouth that summer afternoon.

"Al said, 'Jaime, the best player that I have ever seen in my life is Martin Dihigo, but he never came to the Major Leagues,'" Jarrin said. "'After Dihigo, I would put Roberto Clemente above Willie Mays. Those are the two best players I have ever seen in my entire life.'"

Jarrin still smiles when he tells the story, primarily because he agrees with Campanis' sentiment. The broadcaster also beams with pride because Dihigo, the Cuban sensation who is enshrined in baseball hall of fames across Latin America, and Clemente, the Puerto Rican star, are fellow Latinos.

Hispanic Heritage Month

In his 55 years behind the microphone for the Dodgers, Jarrin, who was born in Ecuador, has seen the growth of Latino players in the Majors, and he feels fortunate to have watched history unfold. He witnessed Felipe Alou develop from a young player from the Dominican Republic in the '50s to a big league manager in the '90s, and eventually become one of the most respected men in the sport.

He watched Venezuela's Luis Aparicio become a pioneer at shortstop and Puerto Rico's Vic Power change the way first basemen played defense. He had a front-row seat to the mania created by a screwball-throwing left-hander from Mexico named Fernando Valenzuela in the '80s. And he saw the potential of a skinny kid from the Dominican Republic named Pedro Martinez.

Jarrin smiles when he thinks of Rod Carew and Mariano Rivera, both from Panama, and his eyes widen when Puerto Rico's Ivan Rodriguez is mentioned.

Don't even get Jarrin started on Juan Marichal. He doesn't have enough words to describe the "Dominican Dandy."

"Incredible," the broadcaster said.

Jarrin can talk about Albert Pujols and Roberto Alomar for hours, he says, but he best describes them in one word: "amazing."

"There are so many names of the great Latino players that have contributed to this game that we could put two or three teams together," Jarrin said. "It tells you how rich the contributions of the players have been, and how much they have meant to this game. There have been so many all-time greats and so many players that mean so much to people."

But no player means more to Jarrin than Clemente, and he's not the only person who feels that way. When MLB.com polled experts to create the 2012 All-Time Latino Team, Clemente was most often the first selection.

"To me, Clemente is the best of all-time," Jarrin said. "Not only was he a great player, but he also went through very tough times being a Latino during the period of time in this country. It was a delight to see him run in the outfield and those throws that he made from right field to third base and to home plate were really spectacular. Such a special, special man."

The members of the All-Time Latino Team have at least two things in common: They are among the best players to ever take the field and they are proud of their roots. So whether they are American-born stars like Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson and Ted Williams, or born in the Caribbean or Latin America, there is no denying that these men are legends of the game and relevant across the globe.

CATCHER: IVAN RODRIGUEZ, Puerto Rico (1991-2011)
A 12-time All-Star, "Pudge" won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and, starting in 1992, was selected to play in nine straight All-Star Games. The 1999 AL Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez won a World Series title with the Marlins in 2003 and holds the record for most games caught.

Honorable mention: Javy Lopez (Puerto Rico), Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), Tony Pena (Dominican Republic), Manny Sanguillen (Panama).

FIRST BASE: ALBERT PUJOLS, Dominican Republic (2001-current)
A nine-time All-Star and three-time National League Most Valuable Player, Pujols has a career batting average of .325 with 475 home runs and 1,430 RBIs. He led the Cardinals to two World Series titles and once boasted a stretch of 10 straight seasons in which he hit .300 or better with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

Honorable mention: Orlando Cepeda (Puerto Rico), Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico), Andres Galarraga (Venezuela), Rafael Palmeiro (Cuba), Tony Perez (Cuba), Vic Pellot Power (Puerto Rico).

SECOND BASE: ROBERTO ALOMAR, Puerto Rico (1988-2004)
A 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, Alomar finished his career with a .300 batting average and was also a threat on the basepaths. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Honorable mention: Rod Carew (Panama), Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic).

THIRD BASE: ALEX RODRIGUEZ, Dominican Republic (1994-current)
With 647 home runs and counting to his credit, Rodriguez has successfully made the transition from shortstop to the hot corner. The three-time AL MVP was a key member of New York's 2009 World Series championship team and is the all-time leader in home runs by a Latino.

Honorable mention: Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic), Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela), Vinny Castilla (Mexico)

SHORTSTOP: LUIS APARICIO, Venezuela (1956-73)
A 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, Aparicio was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. The Venezuelan star led the American League in stolen bases nine times and won AL Rookie of the Year in 1956.

Honorable mention: Chico Carrasquel (Venezuela), Davey Concepcion (Venezuela), Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic), Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic), Omar Vizquel (Venezuela)

OUTFIELD: ROBERTO CLEMENTE, Puerto Rico (1955-72)
The first Latino player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame (1973), Clemente was a 12-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glove Award winner, who spent 18 seasons with the Pirates. In Pittsburgh, he recorded 3,000 hits, 240 home runs and 1,305 RBIs, won the MVP award in 1966 and collected four batting titles.

OUTFIELD: TED WILLIAMS, Mexico (1939-60)
Williams, whose mother was Mexican, is considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. He won two Triple Crowns and is the last person to finish a season with a batting average of .400 or above when he hit .406 in 1941. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

OUTFIELD: REGGIE JACKSON, Puerto Rico (1967-87)
Jackson, whose grandmother was Puerto Rican, entered Cooperstown in 1993. He finished with 563 home runs in his career and starred in 27 World Series games, hitting three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series to earn his famous nickname: Mr. October.

Honorable mention: Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic), Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico), Rico Carty (Dominican Republic), Martin Dihigo (Cuba), Juan Gonzalez (Puerto Rico) , Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic), Minnie Minoso (Cuba), Tony Oliva (Cuba), Manny Ramirez (Dominican Republic), Sammy Sosa, (Dominican Republic), Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico)

RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER: Juan Marichal, Dominican Republic (1960-75)
The "Dominican Dandy" won 243 games and finished his career with a 2.89 ERA. He completed 244 of the 451 games he started, which included 52 shutouts. He was the first player from the Dominican Republic to enter the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1983.

Honorable mention: Martin Dihigo (Cuba), Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), Dolf Luque (Cuba), Dennis Martinez (Nicaragua), Pedro Martinez (Dominican Republic), Camilo Pascual (Cuba), Luis Tiant (Cuba)

LEFT-HANDED PITCHER: Fernando Valenzuela, Mexico (1980-97)
The father of "Fernandomania," Valenzuela compiled a 173-153 record and a 3.54 ERA for the Dodgers, Angels, Orioles, Phillies, Padres and Cardinals during his 17-year career. He was thrust into the spotlight after winning his first eight games as a rookie during the Dodgers' championship season in 1981. He later threw a no-hitter for the Dodgers in 1990.

Honorable mention: Vernon "Lefty" Gomez (Mexico), Johan Santana (Venezuela)

RELIEVER: MARIANO RIVERA, Panama, (1995-current)
The all-time saves leader, Rivera has recorded 40 or more saves in a season eight times and 50 or more twice. The 1999 World Series MVP and 12-time All Star, Rivera has finished 11 seasons with an ERA under 2.00.

Honorable mention: Roberto Hernandez (Puerto Rico), Willie Hernandez (Puerto Rico), Jose Mesa (Dominican Republic)

DESIGNATED HITTER: Edgar Martinez, Puerto Rico (1987-2004)
A seven-time All-Star, Martinez retired with 309 home runs, 514 doubles, a .312 career batting average and a .418 career on-base percentage.

Honorable mention: David Ortiz (Dominican Republic)

MANAGER: Felipe Alou, Dominican Republic (1992-2006)
Alou became the first Dominican-born manager in Major League history when he took over the Expos in 1992. The 1994 National League Manager of the Year finished his managerial career with a record of 1,033-1,021-1 in 13 seasons at the helm.

Honorable mention: Preston Gomez (Cuba), Mike Gonzalez (Cuba), Ozzie Guillen (Venezuela), Cookie Rojas (Cuba)

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.