The Year the Mexican League Raided the Major Leagues for Players

Jorge Pasquel was the son of a shipping magnate. He was the man responsible for running the Mexican League in the 1940s. His goal was to have the Mexican League to be on a par with the major leagues. At first, his signings were limited to the best Negro League and Cuban players, which many feel sped up the major leagues acceptance of blacks in the major leagues.

In 1946 Pasquel built a new stadium for his Mexican League team the Mexico City Red Devils. To help fill this new stadium Pasquel dipped into the major league rosters to sign players, distributing them to the six teams in the league. Twenty major leaguers jumped ship to the Mexican league. Mickey Owen, Sal Maglie, Vern Stephens and Max Lanier signed contracts to play in Mexico. Stephens season lasted only two games. Mickey Owen returned to the major leagues after half a season in Mexico. Pasquel may have paid them good money but the accommodations and ambience in Mexico may have been lacking.

The problem with signing major league players to expensive contracts was the expectation of talented Cuban and Negro league players of commensurate contracts, especially when their Mexican league seasons were better than the major leaguers. This created some financial hard ships on some of the teams trying to meet expenses and keep their players. If the team did not sign top name players they were not competitive and fans stopped showing up for their games.

The color barrier in the major leagues was broken in 1947 with the arrival of Jackie Robinson. Organized baseball also entered into agreements with other Latin American countries to establish winter leagues that would run when the major league season was not in session. They promised to furnish these teams with young major league players to enhance their rosters, giving major league teams an opportunity to improve the skills of some of the younger players on their roster and for Latin American teams to showcase these players on their rosters. No new major league players were signed to contracts for the Mexican League in 1947.

Jorge Pasqual left baseball after the 1951 season after he had been hit in the head with a stone from a fan of the opposition during the playoff rounds of the Mexican League season. It put the Mexican League in a financial hardship with its richest owner now gone. They recovered but in 1955 Pasqual died in a private plane crash. The summer Mexican League is now considered to be AAA and has a close association with major league baseball.

So when you read about how softly major league teams enter into Mexican League territory and pay any Mexican league team compensation for any of their players, it is because they do not want any repeat of a rich owner of a Mexican league baseball team raiding the major league rosters to enhance their team or league like Jorge Pasqual did in 1946.

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