Baseball is a game that has had a long history in several countries in Latin America and has made great impact on the lives of baseball players, their families as well as their countries of origin.
In Mexico, the history of baseball is quite unclear as there are several versions to the game’s history in the country. Some recall that the game was introduced to the country between 1870 and 1890. However, there are old-time residents who believed that baseball originated from Mazatlan around 1847. They considered the chronology of when the sport was introduced in the other places, as according to their recollection, in 1887, the game was played in Nuevo Laredo and Guaymas while it was in 1870 when Tamaulipas started playing baseball. In 1886 the game has spread to Veracruz and around 1889 when it reached San Juan Cadereyeta in Nuevo Leon. The Cuban settlers in Ciudad Progreso in Yucatan taught the game to the residents around 1890 while it was in 1899 when baseball was first played in Coahuila.
According to the records of the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (Salon de la Fama) located in Monterrey, baseball was introduced in Mexico by the US soldiers who were stationed in the country in 1847. The game quickly spread particularly in the northern part of Mexico due to the construction of the railway tracks for Monterrey-Tampico. During this time, it was Colonel Joseph Robertson who helped the game gain widespread following, starting with their Fourth of July celebration with a game played by the railroad workers. He was also credited with bringing the first orange trees in Mexico and establishing the first brick company to the state.
The Monterrey contingent firmly believed that baseball started in their region, around the area of Nuevo Leon, supporting this belief with the existence of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Monterrey Sultanes team, the baseball academy and their consecutive Little League championship wins in 1957 and 1958.
A few years after the introduction of baseball in Mexico, teams were formed until the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol or the Mexican Baseball League was formed in 1925. It was Alejandro Aguilar Reyes or Fray Nano, a famous Mexican sportswriter, and Ernesto Carmona, an established baseball manager who founded the summer minor baseball league. Together with the Pacific Coast League and the International League, they are the only minor leagues that play at the Triple-A level, which is just one level below Major League Baseball. The league is also the only minor league to be certified as a triple-A league outside of the US. The Mexican Baseball League originally started out with six teams: 74 Regimiento de San Luis, Agraria, Águila, Guanajuato, México, and Nacional. From these teams came Baldomero Almada who in 1933 made history by becoming the first Mexican to debut in the Major Leagues by playing for the Boston Red Sox.
During the 1940s, Jorge Pasquel, a shipping magnate from Veracruz, Mexico, wanted to transform the Mexican Baseball League into a professional league similar to the Major Leagues. He invested money and hired Negro and White MLB players. The plan failed though and it was abandoned in 1951. It was resurrected by Anuar Canavati, the manager of the Monterrey Sultanes team in 1955. He was able to absorb the Mexican Central League and expanded the league to 20 teams. But team bankruptcies reduced the league to 14 teams playing in two divisions. Today the Mexican baseball league has 16 teams playing in the Zona Norte (north zone) and Zona Sur (south zone). The ultimate winner from each zone plays the best-of-seven game playoffs for the league championship.
Between 1933 and 2011 there have been a total of 112 baseball players from Mexico that have played and are currently playing in the Major Leagues in the United States.
Mel Almada made history by being the first Mexican to play for Major League Baseball. He was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. His baseball career spanned from 1933 to 1939, and played with the Red Sox (Boston), Senators (Washington), Browns (St. Louis) and Dodgers (Brooklyn), in chronological order. His MLB career statistics include a .284 batting average, 363 runs, 197 RBIs, and 15 home runs in a total of 646 games played in 7 seasons.
Baldomero Almada was born on February 7, 1913 in Huatabampo, in the state of Sonora, Mexico. Although he was born in Mexico, he grew up and studied in California. He went to Los Angeles High School and played for the school’s baseball team.
Playing with the Pacific Coast League, the Boston Red Sox scouted and signed up Almada. The Pacific Coast League is one of the recognized minor baseball leagues operating at Triple-A level. He debuted on September 8, 1933 as a Red Sox outfielder. In that same season, he finished with a batting average of .344 in a total of 14 games. By 1935, he became more of a regular player and a season-ending statistics of a batting average of .290. He also stole 20 bases in a total of 151 games. Pitcher Bobo Newsom and outfielder Ben Chapman from the Washington Senators were exchanged for Almada during the 1937 mid-season trade. By the end of the season, he finished with 27 doubles, a batting average of .296 and 91 runs. In 1938, he was traded to the St. Louis Browns for Sam West, an outfielder and ended the season with a batting average of .311, 197 hits, 29 doubles and 101 runs, which was a career-high record. It was also the same season when he got a record of being short by only two games with no hits from Joe DiMaggio’s historic record of a game-hitting streak of 56. By 1939, Almada’s performance slumped, and he was dealt to his next club, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He served as an expert pinch-hitter and also as backup outfielder with the Dodgers. His last MLB appearance was with the Dodgers on October 1, 1939. He finished with a batting average of .239.
In 1940, Almada played a single season with Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League. For a while, he held office in the Mexican League as a manager. He died at the age of 75, in Sonora, a state in Mexico.
Bobby Ávila was a three-time All-Star player (1952, 1954, 1955) and winner of the 1954 American League Batting Championship title.
Roberto Francisco Ávila González was born on April 2, 1924 in Veracruz, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. He debuted as second baseman for the Cleveland Indians on April 30, 1949. He was selected for his first All-Star game in 1952. In the same year he was the leader in the American League in triples and led the AL basemen in fielding percentage the following year. The highlight of his career came in 1954, when he won the AL Batting Championship title, and was selected for his second All-Star game. He bested fellow batters Minnie Miñoso and Ted Williams, while also enduring playing with a broken thumb for most of the season. In the same season, he participated in the World Series, where he faced off with top batter Willie Mays of the New York Giants. He finished with a batting average of .341, and hit career highs of 112 runs, 67 RBIs, and 15 home runs. In 1955, he was selected for his third All-Star game. His last MLB appearance was with the Milwaukee Braves in September 29, 1959. In 1960, he returned to his home country to play with Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League. He finished with a batting average of .333 in a total of 127 games played.
Ávila was described as “an adept bunter and daring base runner.” His earlier soccer training proved to be useful whenever he was able to knock the ball off of the defenders’ mitts while he was sliding. Al Lopez, a former manager of the Cleveland Indians, commented that Ávila possessed a fine swing, a sharp eye, a competitive sportsmanlike conduct, and full confidence in himself. He used his right arm for hitting and throwing the ball. Aside from the nickname “Bobby,” Ávila was also known as “Beto” especially in Mexico and in other Latin American countries.
After Ávila’s successful professional baseball career, he served as a politician and became mayor of his hometown in Veracruz, Mexico. After his term ended, he served as president of the Mexican League. He died in his hometown at the age of 79, due to diabetes complications.
Throughout his career in MLB, Ávila played with the Cleveland Indians (1949-1958), Baltimore Orioles (1959), Boston Red Sox (1959), and Milwaukee Braves (1959). His MLB career statistics include a .281 batting average, 1,296 hits, 725 runs, 467 RBIs, 185 doubles, 80 home runs, 78 stolen bases, and 35 triples in a total of 1,300 games played in 11 seasons.
Rubén Amaro, Sr.
Rubén Amaro, Sr. was a 1964 Gold Glove Award recipient.
Rubén Amaro, Sr. was born on January 6, 1936 in Veracruz. He debuted as shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals on June 29, 1958. In 1964, he won the Gold Glove Award and hit career highs of 299 at-bats, 79 hits, 34 RBIs, 31 runs, 16 walks, 11 doubles, 4 home runs, a .341 slugging percentage, a .307 on-base percentage, and a .264 batting average. His last MLB appearance was with the California Angels on August 27, 1969.
Amaro used his right arm for hitting and throwing the ball. His father, Santos Amaro, was a Cuban who was also known as “Canguro”Amaro. Canguro Amaro was one of the best professional baseball players in the Cuban and Mexican League. He was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. Rubén Amaro, Jr., his son, was also a former MLB player, and the current General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rubén Amaro, Sr. is currently a board member of the Baseball Assistance Team, a not-for-profit organization that gives much-needed assistance to former baseball players in the Major and Minor Leagues, including Negro League players who face hardships medically and financially.
Throughout his career in MLB, Amaro played with the St. Louis Cardinals (1958), Philadelphia Phillies (1960-1965), New York Yankees (1966-1968), and California Angels (1969). His MLB career statistics include a .234 batting average, 505 hits, and 156 RBIs in 12 seasons.
Aurelio Rodriguez was a 1976 Gold Glove Award recipient. He was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Aurelio Rodriguez Ituarte, Jr. was born on December 28, 1947 in Cananea, Mexico. He debuted as third baseman for the California Angels on September 1, 1967 He joined the Detroit Tigers in 1971 after a short stint with the Washington Tigers when he was traded in 1970. With the Tigers for most of the 1970s, he was consistently excellent at third base. As a hitter, his skills were below-average, but he made up for it with a strong arm and an accurate aim. In 1976, he won the Gold Glove Award and was the first third baseman to beat Brooks Robinson’s 16 consecutive seasons of winning Gold Glove Awards. In the same year and in the following year, he led the AL third basemen in fielding percentage. He hit a batting average of .417 during the 1981 World Series, when he played with the New York Yankees. His last MLB appearance was on October 1, 1983 with the Chicago White Sox.
After leaving the MLB, Rodriguez returned to his home country and played with the Mexican Baseball League until 1987. He also played with the Cañeros de Los Mochis and Yaquis de Obregón in the Mexican Pacific League. He served as a minor league coach for the Cleveland Indians, and then as manager in the Mexican Baseball League in 1995.
Rodriguez died in Detroit at the age of 52. He was accidentally run over by a car. Thousands of people, including colleagues, fans, and even the Mexican president, attended his funeral in Mexico. His tomb can be found in the Emilio Ibarra Almada stadium located in Los Mochis, in the state of Sinaloa.
Throughout his career in MLB, Rodriguez played with the California Angels (1967-1970), Washington Senators (1970), Detroit Tigers (1971-1979), San Diego Padres (1980), New York Yankees (1980-1981), Chicago White Sox (1982, 1983), and Baltimore Orioles (1983). His MLB career statistics include a .237 batting average, 648 RBIs, and 124 home runs in a total of 2,017 games played in 17 seasons.
Aurelio López was a 1984 World Series Champion, 1986 National League Championship Series winner, an All-Star player in 1983, and a Mexican League MVP in 1977.
Aurelio Alejandro López was born on September 21, 1948 in Tecamachalco, in the state of Puebla, Mexico. He started his professional baseball career in 1967, playing for the Las Choapas, an affiliate team of the Diablos Rojos del México (Mexico City Reds) team in the Mexican League. The following year, he was promoted to the Mexico City Reds, at the young age of 19. In 1969, he played with the Minatitlan Red Devils, but returned to play with Mexico City Reds the following year. He stayed with the Reds until 1977. During his final season in the Mexican League, he was named MVP. He finished with a 2.01 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 157 innings in a total of 73 games played.
While playing with the Mexican League in the 1970s, López also played in the Major League. He debuted as pitcher for the Kansas City Royals on September 1, 1974, but only appeared in eight games. The following season was spent with the Waterloo Diamonds under the Class-A Midwest League. In 1977, his contract was bought by the St. Louis Cardinals where he appeared in 25 games in 1978. That same year, he also spent time with the Springfield Redbirds from the Class-AAA American Association. López was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1979 for Jack Murphy and pitcher Bob Sykes.
López had his career-high record in the same year, finishing with a 2.41 ERA, 106 strikeouts, and a 10-5 win-loss record. His first All-Star game selection came in 1983. He gave a strong performance in the 1984 American League Championship, finishing with a 2.94 ERA, 14 saves, and a 10-1 win-loss record. In the same year, the Detroit Tigers faced off with the San Diego Padres in the World Series. The Tigers won four to one. López stayed with the Tigers until 1985. He joined the Houston Astros in 1986, and was with the team when they faced off against the New York Mets in the NL Championships, although they lost to the Mets. His last MLB appearance was with the Astros on June 17, 1987. He finished with a 3.80 ERA, 8 saves, and a 5-4 win-loss record.
López was given the nickname “Señor Smoke”, alluding to his Mexican heritage and signature powerful fastball, which can reach up to a speed of 93mph. He was known among his colleagues and fellow teammates as a friendly person and having an upbeat personality.
After retiring from his professional baseball career, López returned to his hometown in Tecamachalco. In 1990, he served as the city’s municipal president. He held the position until his death in September 22, 1992. López died from a car accident a day after celebrating his 44th birthday. Throughout his career in MLB, López played with the Kansas City Royals (1974), St. Louis Cardinals (1978), Detroit Tigers (1979-1985), and Houston Astros (1986-1987). His MLB career statistics include a 3.56 ERA, 635 strikeouts, 392 runs, 102 homeruns, 93 saves, 62 wins and 36 losses in 11 seasons.
López was honored in his hometown with a statue. Electric Six, a Detroit-based rock band, named their 2005 album, “Señor Smoke”, after López.
Jorge Orta was a 1985 World Series Champion and two-time All-Star player (1975, 1980).
Jorge Orta Núñez was born in Mazatlán, in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico on November 26, 1950. He debuted for the White Sox (Chicago) as second baseman on April 15, 1972. He mostly played the position of second baseman, but he also played outfielder and third baseman from time to time. In 1975, he was selected for his first All-Star game. During his time with the Cleveland Indians in 1980, he made five singles and in a nine-inning game had a double in six at-bats. There were only 35 players in the American League that were able to make this feat and Orta became one of them. In the same year, he was also selected for his second All-Star game. He was with the Kansas City Royals when he made his last appearance in the MLB on June 10, 1987.
Orta used his left arm for hitting and right arm throwing the ball. He led the AL Mexican-born players in stolen bases.
Throughout his career in MLB, Orta played with the Chicago White Sox (1972-1979), Cleveland Indians (1980-1981), Los Angeles Dodgers (1982), Toronto Blue Jays (1983), and Kansas City Royals (1984-1987). His MLB career statistics include a batting average of .278, 1,619 hits, 745 RBIs, 130 home runs, and 79 steals in 16 seasons.
Fernando Valenzuela was a 1981 World Series Champion, six-time consecutive All-Star player (1981-1986), 1986 Gold Glove Award recipient, two-time Silver Slugger Award recipient (1981, 1983), 1981 NL Rookie of the Year, 1981 NL TSN Pitcher of the Year, and a 1981 NL Cy Young Award recipient. On August 23, 2003, he was inducted as a member of the Hall of Fame of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball organization.
Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea, the youngest in a brood of 12, was born on November 1, 1960 in Navojoa, Mexico. He began his professional playing career in 1977 by signing with the Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League. The following year, he joined the Guanajuato Tuzos in the Mexican Central League. He finished with a 2.23 ERA and 5-6 win-loss record. In 1979, when the Mexican Baseball League was established, it also absorbed the Mexican Central League and automatically gained Triple-A status. As a result, the then 18-year old Valenzuela was instantly promoted as a Triple-A level professional baseball player. In the same year, he pitched for the Leones de Yucatán in the Mexican Baseball League, and finished with a 2.49 ERA, 141 strikeouts, and a 10-12 win-loss record. Many Major League scouts had their eye on Valenzuela, but it was the Los Angeles Dodgers who managed to steal him by buying his Mexican Baseball League contract, which was reputed to be worth $120,000.
By the summer of 1979, the Dodgers assigned Valenzuela to the Lodi Dodgers in the California League (Class A). In 1980, he was with the San Antonio Missions (Class AA). He finally debuted for the Dodgers on September 15, 1980. He had some trouble communicating with his teammates during the first few years of his MLB career because he spoke little English. Despite the communication barrier, his best and most productive years were spent with the Dodgers. In his first season he helped the team to get to the Western Division finals against the Houston Astros. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost the division championship title to the Astros.
Valenzuela’s powerhouse year was in 1981 as he became the first ever rookie to lead the NL in strikeouts, and also the first rookie to win both the Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Award in the same season. He led the AL pitchers in 192.1 innings pitched 180 strikeouts, 11 complete games and eight shutouts, which led him to win the TSN Pitcher of the Year Award. He was selected for his first All-Star game, and was consistently selected until 1986. He also received his first Silver Slugger Award, and helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series, which was the team’s first since 1965. He finished the season with a batting average of .250 and 9 strikeouts in 64 at-bats. He became so popular during that time that a “Fernandomania” craze swept baseball fans, especially with the Latino community. As a result of the craze and his powerhouse performance, he was given the nickname “El Toro” (the Bull) by his fans.
In 1983, Valenzuela received his second Silver Slugger Award and replicated his best performance in 1986. He led the AL in complete games, innings pitched, and wins, and then finished with a 3. 14 ERA and a 21-11 win-loss record. He won the Gold Glove Award and was selected for his sixth and last All-Star game. He had a fantastic game in the 1986 All-Star game by striking out five consecutive AL batters, resulting in a tie with a record made by the likewise left-handed pitcher, Carl Hubbell in 1934.
For the next few years, Valenzuela’s performance dropped. He missed almost the entire 1988 season and won only five games. By 1990, his performance improved slightly and was even able to pitch a no-hitter (6-0) in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. His poor performance during spring training led to his release from the Dodgers. His signings with the California Angels and Detroit Tigers did not pan out and his contract was bought out by the Mexican League in the summer. He made an MLB comeback in 1993 with the Baltimore Orioles. For the seasons that followed, he alternated between the MLB and the Mexican League. He gave one last solid performance during the 1996 season with the San Diego Padres, finishing the season with a 3.62 ERA and a 13-8 win-loss record. His last MLB appearance was with the St. Louis Cardinals on July 14, 1997. Just an above-average hitter, his career batting average was .200 with 936 career at-bats, 84 RBIs, 26 doubles, and 10 home runs. His MLB career statistics include a 3.54 ERA, 2,074 strikeouts, and a win-loss record of 173-153 in 18 seasons.
After his retirement he became the Dodgers’ Spanish language radio-commentator for the NL West Games. He was also part of the coaching staff for Team Mexico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic and got inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Hall of Fame on August 23, 2003 and his Dodgers’ jersey #34 has been retired.
Vinny Castilla was a two-time All-Star player (1995, 1998), and a three-time Silver Slugger Award recipient (1995, 1997, 1998). Throughout his career in MLB, Castilla played with the Atlanta Braves (1991-1992 and 2002-2003), the Colorado Rockies (1993-1999, 2004, and 2006), the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2000-2001), the Houston Astros (2001), the Washington Nationals (2005), and the San Diego Padres (2006). His MLB career statistics include a .276 batting average, 1,105 RBIs, and 320 home runs in 16 seasons.
Vinicio Castilla Soria was born on July 4, 1967 in Oaxaca, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. He debuted as third baseman for the Atlanta Braves on September 1, 1991. Castilla joined the newly-formed Colorado Rockies team in 1993, and quickly became a popular fan favorite. In 1995, he was selected for his first All-Star game and received his first Silver Slugger Award. He was an instrumental player in leading the Rockies to their first play-offs in that same year. Until today, he remains one of the best offensive players in Rockies’ history. In 1996, he hit 40 home runs along with teammates Andrés Gallaraga and Ellis Burks, making them the second trio of teammates to hit 40 home runs in a season in MLB history. The trio, together with Dante Bichette also made a record being only the 3rd quartet of teammates to reach 100 RBIs in a season in MLB history. In 1997, Castilla received his second Silver Slugger Award and got his second All-Star selection the following year as well as his third Silver Slugger Award.
He is known for having the lowest range factor in 2002 among all AL third basemen. In 2004, he led the AL in RBIs. The year 2006 was his worst year in terms of performance. He was released by the San Diego Padres, and was signed on by the Rockies to a minor league contract. He decided to retire from professional baseball on September 28, 2006. When Castilla retired, he was the only active player left who was a part of the Rockies’ inaugural season.
Castilla worked as a special assistant to Dan O’Dowd, the General Manager of the Rockies after retirement. He served as manager of Team Mexico in the Pan American Games in 2007 and in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He was also player-manager for Mexican Baseball League’s Naranjeros de Hermosillo team.
Esteban Loaiza was a two-time All-Star player (2003, 2004). Throughout his career in MLB, Loaiza played with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1995-1998), Texas Rangers (1998-2000), Toronto Blue Jays (2000-2002), Chicago White Sox (2003-2004, 2008), New York Yankees (2004), Washington Nationals (2005), Oakland Athletics (2006-2007), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2007-2008). His MLB career statistics include a 4.65 ERA, 1,382 strikeouts, and a win-loss record of 126-114 in 14 seasons.
Tijuana City native Esteban Antonio Loaiza Veyna was born on December 31, 1971. He grew up and studied in California. In 1991, as an undrafted free agent, Loaiza was contracted to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that same year he was assigned to the Rookie Leagues as a player for the Gulf Coast Pirates. From 1992-1994, he went through the farm system of the Pirates, training and playing in the Minor League with Class A teams Augusta and Salem and Class AA team Carolina. At the same time, he spent part of the season playing with the Diablos Rojos del México (Mexico City Red Devils) in the Mexican Baseball League in 1993.
Loaiza finally debuted in Major League by late April in 1995 as pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He started the next season with the Calgary Cannons at Triple-A level, but was eventually called back to the Major League. In 1998, he was traded for second baseman Warren Morris and pitcher Todd Van Poppel from the Texas Rangers. With the Rangers, he served as starting pitcher and reliever. The Blue Jays of Toronto, Canada received Loaiza in 2000, when he was traded for relief pitcher Darwin Cubillán and infielder/designated hitter Michael Young. He pitched for the Jays until 2002.
Loaiza had his most productive year in 2003, when he signed up as a free agent for the Chicago White Sox. He was selected for his first All-Star game that year and led the AL pitchers in total of 207 strikeouts and 21 games won. The following year, he was again selected for his second All-Star game before he was traded mid-season in exchange for New York Yankees’ pitcher José Contreras. Loaiza didn’t perform well that same season, and as a result, was sent to the warm up cage. Loaiza was again an uncontracted player (free agent) in 2005 when he signed for the Washington Nationals. In 2006, he had a rocky career after he signed with Oakland Athletics in a contract reputed to be worth $21.4 million dollars, partly attributed to problems on his shoulders and back, which affected his fastball deliveries. After a month of being in the list of disabled players he returned to playing but was still below par and had to rest once again the following season because of right shoulder muscle cramps. He moved to the Los Angeles Dodgers and made a strong debut/comeback but still struggled with his performance during the remainder of that season. And although he recovered fully from his physical ailments at the outset of the 2008 season, his performance didn’t take off and he was released. He then signed with the Chicago White Sox, but was also released after three appearances as a reliever and on the list of disabled players for another six weeks.
Loaiza is currently signed by the Mexico City Red Devils in the Mexican Baseball League and also currently plays with the Mexicali Aguilas in the Mexican Pacific League. He uses his right arm for hitting and throwing the ball. David Michaels, a college sportswriter, declared October 7, 2010 as “Esteban Loaiza Appreciation Day.”
Just 27 years of age, Soria has shown that he is bound to have a stunning career as a pitcher in the MLB. His baseball career started with stints in Mexican Baseball League as a player for the Diablos Rojos del México during the summer league and for the Yaquis de Obregón in the winter league where he threw a perfect game when they played the Naranjeros de Hermosillo on December 9, 2006. He also once played for the Fort Wayne team in the Class A division.
He was born Joakim Agustín Soria Ramos on May 18, 1984 in Monclova in Coahuila, Mexico. He’s currently a right-handed relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. He was drafted by the Royals out of the San Diego Padres organization by virtue of MLB Rule 5 in 2006. Soria was only 22 at that time. His debut for the Royals was in 2007 season and he already impressed, creating a record of 2-3, with an ERA of 2.48 and 17 saves. He produced 13 straight saves when the 2008 season opened thus breaking the record set by Royals’ Al Hrabosky who had 11. Out of 35 outings Soria was only scored on twice. During that season he was also able to retire 24 straight batters in one stretch. Likewise he had 16 1/3 innings before he gave up a run. His performance earned him an All-Star selection in 2008 and was the only representative of the Kansas City Royals that year. Soria was also the first closing pitcher from the Royals who was selected for the All-Star Game since 2003 when Mike MacDougal got selected. He struck out David Wright of the New York Mets and Dan Uggla of the Florida Marlins when he pitched for 1 2/3 innings.
That was not the only great thing that happened to him in 2008. He has a contract extension for three years for a reported amount of 8.75 million US dollars. While he suffered some injuries in 2009, Soria was still able to finish the season strongly, with a record of 3-2 and had 30 saves from the 33 opportunities during play.
Soria recorded his 100th save on May 26, 2010 when the Kansas City Royals played against the Texas Rangers. The season ended with him recording 43 saves in 46 chances and an ERA of 1.78 and a second All-Star Game selection. He struggled at the start of the 2011 season and was replaced by Aaron Crow, another closer at the end of May but he was able to earn his position again in June after playing as a relief pitcher.
It was announced that he will miss the 2012 season. His right elbow had a torn ligament and he will be placed in the disabled list after surgery.
Joakim Soria won the National Sports Award of Mexico in 2010. This award is handed out by the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports of Mexico. It is handed together with US$549,000 cash prize. In 2006, Vinny Castilla was the first baseball player to win this award.