Star sports players know how to make a crowd go wild. And Hispanic athletes have been getting cheers from the field to the pool. Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15 to October 15. So let’s take a lap around some of the biggest names in sports!
Vernon Louis Gomez played his first season with the New York Yankees in 1930. The star pitcher threw with his left hand, which earned him the nickname “Lefty.” Within a few seasons, Gomez proved his worth for the Yankees. He helped his team to a World Series win in 1932. Then, he did it again in 1936 and the three following years! Gomez was also famous for his witty remarks. “I’d rather be lucky than good,” he once said. But judging by his success, this pitcher was a bit of both.
Jim Plunkett had a lot of firsts. Born in San Jose, California, he became a football champ at Stanford University. In his first game as quarterback for the team, he threw for four touchdowns. In 1970, Plunkett was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. The next year, the New England Patriots chose him with the first draft pick. The football star later joined the Oakland Raiders, and in 1980, Plunkett was the first Hispanic quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. And that’s not all. Plunkett also became the first — and only — Hispanic Super Bowl MVP!
Dara Torres just keeps swimming. Born in 1967, the athlete has been making waves in the pool for a long time. She entered her first swimming contest at 14 years old. Over her career, she broke three world records and earned 12 Olympic medals. At the 2008 Summer Games, Torres made history. At 41 years old, she was the oldest swimmer to ever compete in the Olympics! Age wasn’t a factor as Torres snatched up three silver medals that year. She went on to write a book called Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life.
Carmelo Anthony sure can shoot! The basketball star signed on to play for the Houston Rockets. He has been an NBA All-Star 10 times, and in 2013, he was the top scorer in the league. Anthony also played on the U.S. Olympic team a record four times and brought home three Olympic gold medals. The star shooter’s father was from Puerto Rico. This Hispanic heritage plays a part in Anthony’s life. He grew up visiting the island, and he’s built several basketball courts there. He hopes to help young hoops players follow their dreams!
Laurie Hernandez is only 18 years old, but she’s already traveled the world doing what she loves — gymnastics! The talented teen started the sport when she was just 5 years old. Her big breakout moment came in 2016 when she made the U.S. Olympic team. Hernandez was the first U.S.-born Hispanic gymnast to make the team since 1984. At the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Hernandez helped her team to a gold medal and earned herself a silver in the balance beam event. Now, the top tumbler has her eyes on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan!
Updated October 8, 2018, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Ashley Morgan
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