Baseball, from the US To Cuba and Latin America

Baseball, from the US To Cuba and Latin America
Fecha de publicación: 
14 March 2024
Imagen principal: 

Baseball is a very popular sport in Latin America, with a long history dating back to the late 19th century. Although it has its roots in the U.S., its influence quickly spread to the Caribbean and Latin America, where it became a national pastime in many countries in the region.

Habano Festival, A Luxury Opportunity

The first officially regulated baseball team known to exist was formed in New York in 1842 as the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. The sport soon spread to the Caribbean, and a few years later it began to be played in Cuba in 1868. 

The geographic proximity and the close historical ties between these two countries contributed to the development of baseball in Cuba. It was the Creoles, sons of Spaniards born on the island, who introduced it from the U.S. They studied university careers on American soil and when they returned to Cuba on vacation, they began to play it for entertainment. 

The Game Spread Quickly

At first, it was banned by the Spanish rulers, as it was considered a very violent game. The use of wooden bats in a country that was shaking the drums of war was not well regarded by the Spanish authorities. However, it never stopped being played, both in high society and in the poorest neighborhoods, but it was not until 1874 that the first game was officially registered on the island.

It was at the Palmar de Junco Stadium, in the province of Matanzas, where the first official baseball game was played outside the U.S. A team from Havana faced a team from Matanzas. The Havana players were Cubans who had learned the game in the U.S. and some of them were already practicing it very assiduously at that time. Most of the Matanzas players were citizens of the U.S. who had settled in this city for military reasons. On that occasion, the Havana team won, in a fervent demonstration that baseball had been assimilated with amazing capacity in this region. It was an achievement that would last forever. 

Baseball continued to be played in Cuba until the Cuban Professional League was created in 1917. Two teams stood out, the Leones de la Habana and the Alacranes del Almendares. The latter, until their disappearance, were the winningest team in the Cuban league, with great performances in the regional championships of the Caribbean league. 

After Cuba, baseball spread to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where it soon became a favorite national pastime. In 1890 Cubans introduced the game in Yucatán and in 1905 a regional league was born, made up mainly of Cuban players. It was not until 1925 that the Mexican Professional League saw the light of day. In the Dominican Republic, the Cuban influence is also present: the first clubs were founded by Cubans in 1891. It is worth mentioning the presence of Cuban players in the first Dominican championship in 1912. In Puerto Rico, baseball arrived a little later: the first game took place on June 2, 1896, in the city of Santurce. The Professional League was born in 1938, in Mayagüez. 

In 1946, the Professional Leagues of Venezuela and Panama were created and in 1948 the idea of holding the Caribbean Series, which would bring together in one tournament the champion teams of the Professional Leagues of each country. The first series took place a year later, of course, in Cuba. Puerto Rico's Mayagüez, Venezuela's Escogido, Panama's Spur Cola and Cuba's Alacranes del Almendares faced each other at Havana's Cerro Stadium. The Cuban team, led by star catcher Fermín Guerra, won, undefeated. Until 1960, the last tournament in which Cuba participated, the island won seven times. With his departure, the series was interrupted until 1970. The Cubans rejoined in 2014 and a year later, the Vegueros of Pinar del Río won the title.

Baseball's worldwide growth was capped by its inclusion in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Regional games such as the Central American and Caribbean Games and the Pan American Games, as well as world events such as the World Cup and later the World Classic and the Premier 12, have witnessed the thrust and development of Latin American and Caribbean players, who have given brightness and color to these events.

Baseball spread rapidly, especially among the poorer population. Sports such as soccer, tennis and others were reserved for the wealthier classes; baseball, on the other hand, was a suburban pastime. While the high society played professionally in clubs, in the poorest neighborhoods it was practiced as a pastime. It was precisely from the poorest neighborhoods that the greatest players began to emerge, a demonstration that baseball is in the blood. 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.