Venezuelans salute 'Panda Gigante' as Sandoval becomes 1st to win MVP in World Series

Venezuelan fans are celebrating the selection of San Francisco Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval as the first-ever Venezuelan most valuable player in a World Series.

Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio sent congratulations on Twitter, calling Sandoval's performance great in the series that ended Sunday with the Giants sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games. Aparicio also referred to the possibility of the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera winning American League MVP, saying: "We should have two MVPs this year... don't you think?"

Others congratulating Sandoval or the many Venezuelan players in the series included ex-major league pitcher Wilson Alvarez, golfer Jhonattan Vegas and Venezuelan Professional Baseball League president Jose Grasso Vecchio.

Grasso said in a message on Twitter that all of the Venezuelans who competed in the series were "proof of the greatness of Venezuelan baseball."

A record nine Venezuelans were on the rosters for the World Series. Other players who stood out included Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, who hit a key single in the 10th inning on Sunday night that allowed Ryan Theriot to score.

Scutaro's consistent hitting followed a similarly strong performance that earned him MVP in the National League championship series.

As for Sandoval, his three-homer Game 1 in the World Series drew congratulatory statements last week from President Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan sports newspaper Meridiano covered its front page on Monday with a photo of Sandoval holding the MVP trophy and a headline referring to his nickname Kung Fu Panda, reading: "Panda Gigante," or "Giant Panda."