The Mexican state of Sonora. Why does this state keep coming up when following Mexican baseball? It’s impossible to write a story about baseball in Mexico without mentioning its second-largest state– from being the country’s possible origin of the sport, to the home of players like Fernando Valenzuela to the Urias brothers playing in the MLB today. The state of Sonora has a long history seemingly intertangled with the sport, so it should be no surprise that the first Mexican National to play in the major leagues was from Sonora.

Baldomero Almada’s father was the appointed Governor of Baja California by President Álvaro Obregón shortly after the Mexican Revolution. When the elder Almada arrived in Baja, the incumbent, Esteban Cantú, refused to vacate the office. Later ¨Melo¨ would tell reporters that Cantú had “a large well-equipped army, while my father’s army consisted of my mother and eight children.”

“decided his family would prefer the glorious climate of Los Angeles to the excitement of trying to oust the governor who refused to be ousted.”

Melo on why his father moved to Los Angeles

In 1914, at the age of one, Melo and older brother Lou moved moved to southern California where the elder Almada took over the post of Consul in Los Angeles. Thier father soon fell in love with the game and encourged the brothers to play the sport– which they both exceled at, eventually playing together in the Pacific Coast league before Melo was called up to the Red Sox and brother Lou would later be inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall Of Fame– both becoming the first Mexican nationals to play in their respective leagues.

Baldomero ¨Melo¨ Almada

The younger Almada brother became the first Mexican national to play in the Major leagues when the Boston Red Sox signed him for the 1933 season from the Pacific Coast League. Midway through his rookie season Melo stepped to the plate as the great Bambino made one of his last appearances from the mound where Almada took the Babe for three hits and two walks during the game– the last hit that the great bambino would give up as a pitcher.

Midway through the 1937 season, the Red Sox traded Almada to the Washington Senators and in a doubleheader that July Melo would score nine runs against the St. Louis Browns, becoming the holder of a new major league record for the most runs scored by a single player in an 18-inning doubleheader that still stands today 84 years later. 

Two years later, Almada would be traded to the Browns in exchange for All-Star outfielder Sam West and would have a stretch in which he had a base hit in 54-out-of-56 games, falling just two hitless games short of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak record.

The 1939 season saw Melo’s contract sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he was used as a backup outfielder and pinch-hitting specialist making his last Major League appearance on October 1, 1939. Almada posted a .284 batting average with 15 home runs and 197 RBI in 646 games through his seven-season career.Almada returned to the Pacific Coast League for one final season with the Sacramento Solons in 1940 before managing in the Mexican League. In 1972, he was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

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