Ozzie Virgil Sr.: First Dominican in Major League Baseball

Michael Wynne
 | June 7, 2022

Credit: Baseball Hall of Fame, Osvaldo Salas Collection

Osvaldo José Virgil Pichardo aka Ozzie Virgil Sr. debuted for the New York Giants on September 3, 1956. He was born in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, and was the first Dominican native to play in major league baseball. 

Ozzie Virgil Sr. and his family immigrated to the United States when he was just 13 years old. He was raised in the Bronx, and graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School before serving in the Marines from 1950 to 1952. It was his days in service where Ozzie discovered his true talents for baseball. Just four years after serving in the military, Ozzie signed with the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco. 

Ozzie was traded to the Detroit Tigers when the Giants moved to San Francisco. He was somewhat a journeyman in his 13 year career playing for a total of five different teams and two tenures with the Giants. Virgil played in a total of 324 games in the major leagues starting in a total of 72. He retired in 1969.

Coincidentally, Ozzie’s coaching career started with the San Francisco Giants. He quickly became one of the most respected coaches in the game and would eventually make the Hall of Fame. He is one of four Dominican players to be granted with such an honor. His love for the game even carried on to his kids; his son Ozzie Virgil Jr. debuted for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980.

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