Baseball: Venezuelan national sport

A historical journey through the development of this discipline in Venezuela

Baseball: Venezuelan national sport

Even though Venezuela has a big history in different sports, baseball is the main sports’ branch for the people born in that South America country. One of the proves is the number of players who have built their career inside Major League Baseball (MLB), which is considered as the best league in West hemisphere.

Venezuelan community has a strong presence in MLB, and it is notable: since 1938, at least 350 players had been active in the league. This past season, 2017, only 5 teams did not have any Venezuelan player in their rosters: three in the National League (Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels and San Luis Cardinals); in the American League, only Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics did not have a Venezuelan player. These two leagues together make the MLB.

Although there is lack of information about the beginnings of this sport in Venezuela, late XIX –almost a hundred and twenty years ago– is considered as the first-time baseball was practiced. At the time, former students from different American universities came back to the country, carrying with them some equipment necessary to play the sport; such as, bats, gloves, and, of course, baseballs. It’s important to remark the importance of baseball companies in the popularity reached by the sport those years, which could’ve been impossible without all the money and support given by these businesses.

Caracas B. B. C. is considered the very first Venezuelan baseball club, established in 1895 by Franklin brothers: Amenodoro, Emilio, Gustavo and Augusto. Newspaper El Tiempo was in charge of reporting the first official baseball game in Venezuelan ground, on May the 23, same year. These match, arranged attempting to make the sport more popular, was announced the day before with the slogan “a new chess type, the Base Bale” (sic).

El pregonero, another newspaper, also wrote about the match. Later that year, El Cojo Ilustrado, a magazine, edited the very first pictures of baseball in Venezuela. Later, Alfredo’s Mosquera father (Alfredo played the first game), who also owed Cerveceria Caracas, built the first baseball stadium with official sizes and stands. Mosquera’s father and some other wealthy people, who were between the public on the day of that first game, were the driving force behind baseball early years in Venezuela.

Another milestone is the championship won by the “Heroes del 41”, who got the Amateur Baseball World Series (now World Baseball Classic). The series, held in Cuba that year, it was also won by Venezuela in 1944 and 1945, but the only heroes are the ones from 41.

Martin Tovar, Carlos Lavau, Juan Regetti, and Juan Yanez founded the “Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional” in 1945. By those years, Venezuela had already exported players from different local leagues to MLB. Alejandro Carrasquel was the first Venezuelan player in the Major League.

Nowadays, Miguel Cabrera is in the league, playing for Detroit Tigers and he won the Triple Crown. This award is given to players who reached the first place in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Cabrera is the first Latino player to earn this trophy. Another important player is Jose Altuve, Astroboy, who plays for Houston Astros team, that won the last World Series. Altuve is also the Most Valuable Player from 2017 season.

LatinAmerican Post | Jesús Koyoc

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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