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First MLB Player by Country 2024

Baseball has years of history leading to it becoming the Major League Baseball we know and love today. Along the way, players have joined the pros from all over the world. In the past, not all professional teams were respected as such, especially when it comes to racially segregated teams. Today, we include these players, teams, and leagues as we examine the first pro baseball player from each country.

Baseball is considered a very American sport, so it is no surprise that the United States had its first professional baseball player in 1871, the year the first professional baseball league began. Bobby Matthews was a pitcher for the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and the first of over 16 thousand players from the United States to go pro.

Several other countries also boast 1871 as the year they had their first MLB player. Bob Addy from Canada played for the Rockford Forest Citys. He was the first of 250 professional Canadian players. Rynie Wolters played for the New York Mutuals, the first of only 12 players to go pro from the Netherlands. Cuba's Steve Bellan played for the Troy Haymakers, and Ireland's Andy Leonard played for the Washington Olympics and the Boston Red Stockings. Interestingly, The Boston Red Stockings are now the Atlanta Braves and not the Boston Red Sox. 201 professional baseball players have been from Cuba and 47 from Ireland.

Most recently, Jesus Luzardo of the Oakland As became the first baseball player from Peru to play in the majors. 2017 saw the first players from Lithuania and South Africa: Dovydas Neverauskas and Gift Ngoepe respectively. Both played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Several countries have first players who were born within their borders to American parents. China's Harry Kingman played for the New York Yankees in 1914 and was born to missionaries in Hong Kong. Vietnam's Danny Graves played for the Cleveland Indians in 1996 and was born in South Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and an American father. Singapore's Robin Jennings played for the Chicago Cubs in 1996, Saudi Arabia's Craig Stansberry played for the San Diego Padres in 2007, and Hong Kong's Austin Brice played for the Miami Marlins in 2016.

  • The list of major league players includes not only players in the modern Major League Baseball (MLB) league, but also players in earlier major leagues, including the following:
  • The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), which was the world's first fully professional baseball league.
  • The National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), which succeeded the NAPBBP.
  • The American Association of Base Ball Clubs (AA), which would merge with the NABBP to form the MLB.
  • The various Negro leagues, whose stats and records were later incorporated by the MLB.
  • When the Negro leagues were retroactively reclassified as fully professional leagues, a handful of countries found their major league debut moved earlier. For example, the first Jamaican player in the MLB was Chili Davis in 1981. But once the Negro league stats were incorporated, the first Jamaican player became Oscar Levis in 1923.
  • Players are listed according to the first team for which they played in an official game. For example, Jeff Bronkey was drafted by both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Minnesota Twins, but did not actually play for either team, and so is listed with the Texas Rangers, for whom he debuted.
  • A few names have been used by multiple teams in multiple leagues. For example, three different teams have used the name Washington Senators. The first dissolved in 1899, the second became the Minnesota Twins in 1961, and the third became the Texas Rangers in 1972.

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First Major League Player
Year Debuted
Total Major League Players
Additional Details
United StatesBobby MathewsFort Wayne Kekiongas (National Association)187116751
Played in several semi-professional leagues before pitching a shutout in the inaugural game of the N...
Dominican RepublicPedro SanCuban Stars East (Eastern Colored League)1926717
Outside of Negro League: Ozzie Virgil, New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants), 1956.
VenezuelaAlex CarrasquelWashington Senators (now Minnesota Twins)1939382
Puerto RicoJosé "Gacho" TorresNewark Stars (Eastern Colored League)1926264
Outside of Negro League: Hiram "Hi" Bithorn, Chicago Cubs, 1942.
CanadaBob AddyRockford Forest Citys (National Association)1871250
CubaSteve BellanTroy Haymakers (National Association)1871201
MexicoMel AlmadaBoston Red Sox1933125
JapanMasanori MurakamiSan Francisco Giants196466
PanamaVictor GreenidgeNew York Cubans (Negro National League II)194160
Outside of Negro League: Humberto Robinson, Milwaukee Braves, 1955.
IrelandAndy LeonardWashington Olympics (National Association)/Boston Red Stockings (National Association, now Atlanta Braves)187147
AustraliaJoe QuinnSt. Louis Maroons (Union Association)188430
GermanyDavid Lenz/Marty SwandellBrooklyn Eckfords (National Association)187229
South KoreaChan Ho ParkLos Angeles Dodgers199423
ColombiaLou CastroPhiladelphia Athletics (now Oakland As)190220
CuracaoHensley MeulensNew York Yankees198915
TaiwanChin-Feng ChenLos Angeles Dodgers200214
NicaraguaDennis MartinezBaltimore Orioles197614
United States Virgin IslandsAlfonso GerardNew York Black Yankees (National Negro League II)194514
Outside of Negro League: Joe Christopher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1959
NetherlandsRynie WoltersNew York Mutuals (National Association)187112
RussiaJake GettmanWashington Senators (no longer active)18978
This Senators team is different from the teams that later became the Minnesota Twins and the Texas R...
FranceLarry ResslerWashington Nationals (National Association)18757
ItalyLou PolliSt. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles)19327
BahamasOrmond SampsonAtlanta Black Crackers (Negro Southern League)19326
Outside of Negro League: Andre Rodgers, New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants), 1957.
BrazilYan GomesToronto Blue Jays20125
PolandHenry PeploskiBoston Braves (now Atlanta Braves)19295
AustriaFrank/Dutch UlrichPhiladelphia Phillies19255
ArubaGene KingsaleBaltimore Orioles19965
SwedenCharlie HallstromProvidence Grays (no longer active)18854
JamaicaOscar LevisCuban Stars East (Eastern Colored League)19234
Outside of Negro League: Chili Davis, San Francisco Giants, 1981.
SpainBryan OelkersMinnesota Twins19833
UkraineBill CristallCleveland Blues (now Cleveland Guardians)19013
Czech RepublicJohn StedronskyChicago White Stockings (now Chicago Cubs)18793
The Cubs were the Chicago White Stockings from 1870 to 1889. The Chicago White Sox were the White St...
NorwayJohn AndersonBrooklyn Grooms (now Los Angeles Dodgers)18943
Saudi ArabiaCraig StansberrySan Diego Padres20072
Born in Saudi Arabia to American parents.
ChinaHarry KingmanNew York Yankees19141
Born in China to American missionaries.
IndonesiaTom MastnyCleveland Indians (now Cleveland Guardians)20061
PhilippinesClaudio ManelaCincinnati Cuban Stars (Negro National League)19211
Outside of Negro League: Bobby Chouinard, Oakland As, 1996.
VietnamDanny GravesCleveland Indians (now Cleveland Guardians)19961
Born in South Vietnam to Vietnamese/American parents
South AfricaGift NgoepePittsburgh Pirates20171
AfghanistanJeff BronkeyTexas Rangers19931
PeruJesus LuzardoOakland Athletics/As20191
BelgiumBrian LesherOakland Athletics/As19961
HondurasGerald YoungHouston Astros19871
GreeceAl CampanisBrooklyn Dodgers (now Los Angeles Dodgers)19431
PortugalFrank ThompsonWashington Nationals (National Association)18751
SwitzerlandOtto HessCleveland Bronchos (now Cleveland Guardians)19021
Hong KongAustin BriceMiami Marlins20161
Born in Hong Kong to American parents.
SingaporeRobin JenningsChicago Cubs19961
Born in Singapore to American parents
DenmarkOlaf HenriksenBoston Red Sox19111
FinlandJohn MichaelsonChicago White Sox19211
LithuaniaDovydas NeverauskasPittsburgh Pirates20171
LatviaJoe ZapustasPhiladelphia Athletics (now Oakland As)19331
GuamJohn HattigToronto Blue Jays20061
American SamoaTony SolaitaNew York Yankees19681
showing: 54 rows

What country do most baseball players come from?

There are over 25 countries represented in Major League Baseball, but the United States has the most overall baseball players.

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