¡Vamos Panther!: FIU athletics has a rich history of Hispanic players

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons. Former FIU third baseman, Mike Lowell, rounds the bases as a member of the Boston Red Sox on May 14, 2008.

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director


Throughout its 52-year history, the FIU athletic program has featured top Hispanic athletes from the South Florida area.

With Miami’s population comprised of 70 percent Hispanics, according to a Pew Hispanic report in 2013, the university had the opportunity to recruit some of the top Hispanic talents in the region.

Former FIU baseball player Mike Lowell, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has gone on to have an illustrious professional baseball career.

Lowell began his professional career with the New York Yankees, after being selected in the 20th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft.

The San Juan native did not make an impact until 1998 however, when he finally made his debut as a Sept. call-up for the Yankees. In his debut game, Lowell did not let the opportunity go to waste and singled in the first at-bat of his professional career.

The former three-time All-Conference player with the Panthers, went on to win a World Series as a member of the New York Yankees. Even though Lowell did not participate in the postseason for the Yankees, he was still rewarded a World Series ring.

Following his tenure with the Yankees, Lowell returned to the Sunshine State after he was traded to the Florida Marlins on Feb. 1, 1999.

As a member of the Marlins, Lowell went on to have a successful career with the team and ended up receiving his second World Series ring in 2003, after the Marlins defeated the New Yankees.

Jose Marchese, a junior majoring in communication arts, discussed that he remembers Mike Lowell as a member of the Marlins and explained that during his tenure with the team Lowell was one of his favorite players.

“I’ve been going to Marlins’ games almost my entire life. As a kid, I remember going to games with my dad and watching Lowell along with the rest of the team have that unbelievable season in 2003,” said Marchese. “During his time with Marlins he quickly established himself as one of the fan favorites and also showed the entire league that he was one of the best third basemen to be playing the game.”

Lowell was then traded to the Boston Red Socks on Nov. 21, 2005, and continued to add to his successful career.

In 2007, Lowell went on to have one of the best seasons in his twelve-year career. The third baseman set career-highs in hits, RBI, and batting average, along with earning a spot on the 2007 American League All-Star team.

To finish off the 2007 season, Lowell and the rest of the Red Sox organization went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in World Series. Lowell hit .400 with one homerun, four RBI, and scored six runs during the series.

The former Panther secured the third World Series ring of his career and was also named the MVP of the World Series.

Lowell became the second Puerto Rican player in history to receive the MVP honor, the first one being Roberto Clemente.

Carlos Arroyo, a former basketball player who played for the Panthers from 1998 to 2001, is another example of a hispanic athlete finding success after their career with FIU.

Arroyo, who is from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, has played for a plethora of teams in numerous different leagues.

After graduating from FIU, Arroyo was signed by the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors for the 2001-2002 season, however was soon after released in Jan. 2002.

The former Panther continued to bounce from team-to-team until Oct. 2009, when signed a one-year contract with the Miami Heat. Arroyo went through the season as a rotational point guard for the Heat, however played in crucial moments for the team during the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

Arroyo returned to the Heat the following season and started in 42 games, averaging 5.6 points and two assists per game. He also lead the team in three-point shooting, with a career best 43.8 average.

Sophomore Julian Melo explained that as a fan of the Miami Heat, he remembers watching Arroyo during his time with the team and believes having athletes like Arroyo being part of the FIU alumni will help attract other hispanic athletes to the university.

“Arroyo was one of the scrappiest players that I’ve ever seen wear a Miami Heat jersey,” said Melo. “I think if FIU tried to promote former players such as Arroyo or Lowell, it would help the athletic program gain more support and would also show people that there actually is a history within our teams.”

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