Born: April 12, 1850|
San Francisco, California
Died: June 15, 1906 (aged 56)|
|Batted: Unknown||Threw: Unknown|
|May 5, 1882 for the Providence Grays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 29, 1886 for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Career highlights and awards|
Vincent Irwin "Sandy" Nava (April 12, 1850 – June 15, 1906) was an American 19th century Major League Baseball player for five seasons from 1882 through 1886. Nava was the first known Mexican American and second Hispanic baseball player to play in the Majors, behind Steve Bellán.
Born as Vincent Irwin in San Francisco, California, Sandy made his Major League debut for the 1882 Providence Grays as a catcher. He was brought in to be fellow San Francisco native Charlie Sweeney's catcher. Nava's history in professional baseball showed two sides; when he was growing up in San Francisco, he apparently tried to hide his Mexican heritage and went by names like Irwin Sandy or Vincent Irwin, but when he came to the East Coast, he returned to his name of Nava and the Providence team tried to promote his "Spanish" heritage.
He played in 28 games his rookie season, and batted .206, while scoring 15 runs. He returned to the Grays for two more seasons, continuing to be the back-up catcher to Barney Gilligan, having his best year in 1883 when he batted .240 and scored 18 runs in 29 games. Even though he didn't hit well, he stayed on as Sweeney's personal catcher, until Sweeney was expelled from the team by refusing to leave a game in favor of Cyclone Miller. The team decided to leave Nava and Miller behind on a road trip and later loaned them to a military team in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Nava was of Mexican descent, however, he was identified as Black, Indian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Cuban throughout his baseball career. In the 1900 United States Census, he was enumerated at 363 Davis Street in Baltimore, Maryland. He was listed as Vincent Nava, white and single, born April 1851, and working as an upholsterer, in a neighborhood with a large black population. Nava died in Baltimore at the age of 55, and is interred at Trinity Cemetery in Baltimore, a segregated cemetery.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Find a Grave