‘Pleibol,’ an Exhibit Showcasing the Crucial Role of Latinos in the Big Leagues

Pleibol Exhibition BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Latin Times.

This 2021, the “¡Pleibol!” exhibit will tour the country, bringing images and stories of the pivotal role Latinos have played in the U.S. major leagues.

The exhibit opened July 2 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) will take the exhibit to 15 cities through 2025.

It is currently on view at the El Pueblo Museum of History in Colorado through August 1.

As announced by the Smithsonian, the exhibition reveals how baseball “brings people together regardless of race, class or gender,” reflecting on the broader themes of American history that connect us all, on and off the field.

Similarly, the exhibition is accompanied by a book that combines artifacts from the museum’s collections with the voices of the community of players, scholars, and enthusiasts who have contributed to sharing “this quintessentially American story.”

The exhibition is organized by the National Museum of American History in collaboration with SITES. It has received support from Cordoba Corp. and Linda Alvarado and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

“‘¡Pleibol!’ presents Major League stories, but it is first and foremost rooted in communities and the reality of who was allowed to play ball and where,” said Margaret Salazar-Porzio, curator in the museum’s Division of Cultural and Community Life. “The story we tell shows how Latinas and Latinos have used baseball to chase their dreams, challenge prejudice, and build communities.”

As the institution explained in a press release, throughout the 20th century in the United States and Latin America, baseball provided Latinas/os with recreational opportunities, a means to make ends meet, a socially acceptable space to find community, and an arena for workers in agriculture and industry to organize for rights and justice.

By 2020, Latino players accounted for about 30% of the Major League Baseball roster, and Latinas are making their way as broadcasters, scouts, managers, and even owners of Major League Baseball teams.