Puerto Rico, Recreation and Places of Interest
Puerto Ricoís mild climate and sandy beaches make it a popular recreation area, especially for swimming, fishing, boating, tennis, and golf. Baseball, basketball, volleyball, and boxing are popular sports on the island. Horse racing and cockfighting also attract many spectators.
Many famous international sports figures have come from Puerto Rico. In tennis, Gigi Fernandez established herself during the 1980s and 1990s as one of the greatest doubles players in womenís professional tennis history. In golf, Chi Chi Rodriguez continues to be one of the most popular players on the Professional Golferís Association Seniors tour.
But Puerto Rican baseball players have garnered the greatest success and international fame. Baseball became popular in Puerto Rico soon after the United States occupied the island in 1898. The Puerto Rican Winter League, which runs from November to January, attracts many prominent major league players from the mainland. Puerto Rico has sent many fine players to major league baseball teams in the United States, including Vic Power, who as a first baseman during the 1950s and 1960s won the American League Gold Glove Award seven years in a row. Other more recent Puerto Rican players include Bernie Williams, Juan Gonzalez, and Roberto Alomar. Perhaps the most famous Puerto Rican baseball player was Roberto Clemente, who had a triumphant career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. Playing right field, Clemente won four National League batting championships and twelve Gold Glove awards in a row. In 1973 Clemente became the first Latin American to be elected to baseballís Hall of Fame.
Puerto Ricoís Spanish heritage is preserved in many sites in San Juan, especially in the part of the city known as Old San Juan. Among these sites is the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes the fortresses of San Felipe del Morro (known simply as El Morro) and San Cristobal. La Fortaleza was once a fortress and is now the governorís palace; its oldest section was completed in 1540. The area also contains many religious sites, including the San Juan Cathedral, built in the early 16th century, and the Old Dominican Convent, built between 1523 and 1528.