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Latino athletes reflect on impact in Bay Area pro sports

Bay Area athletes reflect on Hispanic Heritage month
Bay Area athletes reflect on Hispanic Heritage month 02:43

SAN FRANCISCO – Latino athletes have made major waves in Bay Area professional sports, including playing major roles in the past, present and future of the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants also were the first major league franchise to build a talent pipeline from Latin America and ushered in the era of Latinos playing in MLB in the early 60s, with players such as Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and the Alou brothers--Matty, Jesus and Felipe--the first all-brother outfield in the major leagues.

Infielder David Villar, whose family left Cuba to make a life in South Florida, touted the team's diversity.

"To be surrounded by you know a lot of Hispanics on this team, there's Venezuelans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. It's nice to have a mixed clubhouse," Villar told KPIX 5.

The Giants quality assurance coach Nick Ortiz, a former professional player, is from Puerto Rico.

"For us it's Latin Heritage every month," Ortiz said. "So we feel very proud, we wear our countries on our sleeve."

More than 30% of Major League Baseball's talent is made up of Latinos, and nearly 2,000 players of Hispanic descent have played major league baseball over the years according the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Former Golden State Warriors champion Juan Toscano Anderson's family emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico to Oakland in the 1940's. Toscano played in the Mexican league before his time in the NBA.

San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alfredo Gutierrez was born and raised in Mexico...and even wears the flag on the back of his helmet.

"Mexicans are into the NFL, are into football so it means a lot for us," Gutierrez said. "It's been great, it's been a dream come true and being able to represent my country is awesome. Sometimes in away games when I get outside the tunnel like people like start yelling my name, and I'm like 'Where are they from,' right? But some of them they're from Mexico."

Gutierrez is especially looking forward to returning to Mexico to face off with the Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in November.

"I already dream a lot thinking about the way I'm going to walk outside that tunnel. And I just can't wait man."

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