Cuban National League

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The Cuban National League is the league system of Cuba and is governed by the Cuban Baseball Federation. It currently has a national provincial championship, the Serie Nacional, a super-provincial series, the Súper Liga, which aids in the selection of the Cuban national baseball team, and seven other leagues. It was founded in 1962 after the abolition of the country's professional league by Fidel Castro in 1961.

All of the players are amateurs and play for the provinces in which they were born in or reside with all provinces of Cuba represented by teams.

League Structure[edit]

Serie Nacional[edit]

Main article: Cuban Serie Nacional

The Serie Nacional (National Series) currently has sixteen teams organized into two zonas (zones), Occidental and Oriental, which are in turn split into two grupos (groups). Each of Cuba's 14 provinces has a team as does the special municipality Isla de la Juventud, with Ciudad de La Habana having two clubs, for a total of sixteen teams.

The league has a 90-game schedule which runs from November though April. Each team plays each other team six teams. The season is then followed by a 3-tiered of playoff that culminates in a national championship. An all-star game, between the league's zonas, has been played since the 1997-1998 season, although it had been played in earlier seasons. In the past, the winning team has played versus a teams from the Mexican League. This series has been played each winter since 1962.


At the end of the regular season in mid-April, the three-round playoffs begin. Eight teams qualify for the playoffs, split into two brackets by zona. The two grupo winners in each zona quaIify along with two wildcard teams, which are the two non-grupo winners with the best records. The first Cuartos de final series, the grupo winner with the best record plays versus the wildcard team with the worst record, while the other in the matchup has the other grupo winner playing the best wildcard team. All series in this round are best-of-five. The winners meet in the Semifinals to determine the zona champion; this round is best-of-seven. The winners of the Semifinals then play versus each other in the best-of-seven Final to determine the league champion.


Each team is allowed to have thirty players on its roster with nearly all of the players from the team's home province. There are no foreigners allowed in the league, no free agency, and very little player movement as all player contracts are signed with the league rather than the individual team. In rare instances, a player may be granted a transfer in instances, such as family relocation. Salaries range between the equivalent of US$120 and US$175 per month, with an average of US$135, paid in pesos (which unlike the convertible peso has no value outside Cuba). Players at the very top are sometimes rewarded with luxuries from the government, such as homes; although examples of this are few.

The Cuban baseball system is designed as much to develop the nation's athletic talents as to provide entertainment to the public. Children showing athletic promise are sent to sports academies for extensive competitive training and development, with the goal of developing the nation's athletes. Some players are able to make the municipal team and advance through the sport without training in the academies, but those players are exceptional. Although players are amateurs, elite players are subsidized and given special rewards. A problem confronting Cuba's top athletes, however, is the lack of opportunities to compete against the best players in the world. An opportunity for competition against the world's best professional players was finally made available by the World Baseball Classic first held in March 2006.

Current Teams[edit]

The Serie Nacional (National Series) currently has sixteen teams, divided into two zonas which are in turn split into two grupos. although as recently as 1992 there were eighteen teams.

Unlike most leagues, Serie Nacional teams have no official nicknames but are instead named for their province, with the two Ciudad de La Habana teams being the notable exceptions. However, over the years "unofficial" nicknames and mascots have been attached by local fans or media organizations and are now increasingly found in the Cuban press. It is also common for a team to have more than one nickname simultaneously.

Zona Grupo Team City, Province Stadium First Season
Occidental A Isla de la Juventud Nuevo Gerona, Isla de la Juventud Estadio Cristóbal Labra 1977-1978
Matanzas Matanzas, Matanzas Province Estadio Victoria de Girón 1992-93
Metropolitanos Ciudad de La Habana Estadio Latinoamericano 1961
Pinar del Río Pinar del Río, Pinar del Río Province Estadio Capitán San Luis 1992-1993
B Cienfuegos Cienfuegos, Cienfuegos Province Estadio Cinco de Septiembre 1977-1978
La Habana San José de las Lajas, La Habana Province Estadio Nelson Fernández 1977-1978
Industriales Ciudad de La Habana Estadio Latinoamericano 1961
Sancti Spíritus Sancti Spíritus, Sancti Spíritus Province Estadio José Antonio Huelga 1977-1978
Oriental C Camagüey Camagüey, Camagüey Province Estadio Cándido González 1977-1978
Ciego de Ávila Ciego de Ávila, Ciego de Ávila Province Estadio José Ramón Cepero 1977-1978
Las Tunas Las Tunas, Las Tunas Province Estadio Julio Antonio Mella 1977-1978
Villa Clara Santa Clara, Villa Clara Province Estadio Augusto César Sandino 1961
D Granma Bayamo, Granma Province Estadio Mártires de Barbados 1977-1978
Guantánamo Guantánamo, Guantánamo Province Estadio Nguyen Van Troi 1977-1978
Holguín Holguín, Holguín Province Estadio Calixto García Íñiguez 1977-1978
Santiago de Cuba Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba Province Estadio Guillermón Moncada 1977-1978
The special municipality of Isla de La Juventud was known as Isla de Pinos until 1978, therefore the Pinar del Río team played the 1977-1978 season as Isla de Pinos.

Former Teams[edit]

Súper Liga[edit]

Main article: Súper Liga

The Súper Liga is an all-star super-provincial competition usually played from May through July with a schedule of about 28 games. The Serie Nacional's top 125 players are placed on five teams, based on their home province, and compete in a seven-game round-robin competetion. After the round robin the top two teams play in a best-of-three playoff to determine championship team. Only players selected to play in the Súper Liga may be selected to play on Cuban national baseball team. The league's five regional teams are (with provinces):

  • Centrales: Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Cienfuegos, Santi Spíritus, Villa Clara
  • Habana: La Habana, Industriales, Metropolitanos
  • Occidentales: Isla de Juventud, Matanzas, and Pinar del Rio
  • Orientales: Gramma, Guantánamo, Holguín, and Las Tunas
  • Santiago de Cuba: Santiago de Cuba

Liga de Desarrollo[edit]

The Liga de Desarrollo (also known as the 2da Categoría) is a developmental league that occurs between the Campeonato Provincial and the Serie Nacional. The league plays from late August to early November and its primarily for young prospects. Each of Cuba's 14 provinces has a team as does the special municipality Isla de la Juventud, with Ciudad de La Habana having two clubs, for a total of sixteen teams. The league's players are not top prospects as those players would be brought up to the Serie Nacional at a young age. Like the Serie Nacional, the sixteen teams organized into two zonas (zones), Occidental and Oriental, which are in turn split into two grupos (groups).

The top two teams from each grupo qualify for the three-round playoffs in late October and early November; each round is best-of-three. Each zona winner plays the second place team in the zona's other grupo. The winners play for the zona championship, with the winners playing for the league championship.

Zona Occidental Zona Oriental
Grupo A Grupo B Grupo C Grupo D
Team Province Team Province Team Province Team Province
Capitalinos Ciudad de La Habana Agropecuarios La Habana Agricultores Ciego de Ávila Arroceros Santiago de Cuba
Citricultores Matanzas Camaroneros Cienfuegos Azucareros Villa Clara Cafetaleros Granma
Pescadores Isla de la Juventud Constructores Ciudad de La Habana Cañeros Las Tunas Mineros Holguín
Vegueros Pinar del Río Serranos Sancti Spíritus Granjeros Camagüey Salineros Guantánamo

Campeonato Provincial[edit]

The Campeonato Provincial (Provincial Championships) is run every summer in each Cuban province. Each of 15 provincial winners, plus a second team from Ciudad de La Habana, meet at the end of July to play in the playoffs in late July and early August to determine a national champion. The playoffs are three-rounds in length and best-of-three games.

Octavos de final Cuartos de final Semifinal Final
1 Ciudad de La Habana (First) versus La Habana 9 Winner 1
Winner 2
13 Winner 7
Winner 8
15 Winner 13
Winner 14
2 Ciudad de La Habana (Second) versus Pinar del Río
3 Isla de la Juventud versus Matanzas 10 Winner 3
Winner 4
4 Cienfuegos versus Sancti Spíritus
5 Ciego de Ávila versus Villa Clara 11 Winner 5
Winner 6
14 Winner 7
Winner 8
6 Camagüey versus Las Tunas
7 Granma versus Holguín 12 Winner 7
Winner 8
8 Guantánamo versus Santiago de Cuba

Infantil and Juvenil[edit]

There are five other lower leagues based on age, with each of Cuba's fifteen province equivalents having a single team. These leagues are:

  • Categoría 9-10: 9 to 10 year olds
  • Categoría 11-12: 11 to 12 year olds
  • Categoría 13-14: 13 to 14 year olds
  • Categoría 15-16: 15 to 16 year olds
  • Categoría Juvenil


At the close of the 1960-1961 Cuban Winter League season in March 1961, Fidel Castro's government decreed the abolition of professional baseball. The government had created the Instituto Nacional de Deportes, Educación Física y Recreación (INDER), translated as National Institute for Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation, earlier in the year on February 23. In the following month it legislated National Degree Number 936 which banned all professional sports competitions including the popular professional baseball league. The INDER was commissioned to hold a national amateur baseball championship, the Serie Nacional in the following year. During this early era, Martín Dihigo served as a technical advisor for the league while Gil Torres was the national team manager. Other notable coaches and managers were Asdrúbal Baró, Pedro Chávez, Juan Vistuer, and the national team's pitching coach - Pedro "Natilla" Jiménez. Conrado Marrero, a former Washington Senators pitcher, remained in Cuba where he was a pitching coach for several teams.

On January 14, 1962, the first Serie Nacional held its season opener at Havana's Estadio Latinoamericano with a game between Orientales and Azucareros. The leagues' four teams (Azucareros, Habana, Occidentales, and Orientales) played a 27-game season in the capital – similar setup to the no abolished professional league. Occidentales, managed by Fermín Guerra won the first Serie. In the early years of the league the Industriales (formerly Habana) led by Ramón Carneado captured four consecutive championships from 1963 to 1966 they became known as the premier Cuban team.

For the fifth Serie Nacional two teams were added the and two years later (1967-1968) six teams were added, doubling the size of the league. Two more teams were added in 1972-1973 and following the June 5, 1976 reorganization of Cuban provinces from six to fourteen and one special municipality, another two teams were added for the 1977-1978 season. This expansion of béisbol throughout the country was was accompanied by the construction of new stadiums in provincial capitals which transformed the Serie Nacional into a national league.

In addition to the Serie Nacional, throughout the history of the National League there have other top level competitions. The most common of these are super-provincial series, which including the Series Selectivas from 1974-1975 to 1995 and the current Súper Liga which was established in 2002. Seven All-Star Series were held between 1968 and 1979 along with two Copas de la Revolution in 1996 and 1997 and 1970's Serie 10 Millones.

The designated hitter was introduced for 1977-1978 season and from 1976-1977 to 1998-1999 aluminum bats were used.

The league first season the league has handed out awards to the Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Pitcher, and since the 1966-1967 season Rookie of the Year.


A number of emigrants from Cuba (sometimes described as "defectors") have played for the major leagues since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Many of the island's professional baseball players emigrated to the United States in the 1959 and 1960 with visas. following the suspension of exit visas in January 1961 relatively few left Cuba for the next 30 years. On August 11, 1962 Enrique Hernández became the first Cuban baseball defector after the termination of visas. In 1980, Barbaro Garbey became the first player from the Cuban national team to leave the country in the Mariel boatlift. Since 1991, a number of prominent Cuban baseball players have emigrated. These players include:

League Champions[edit]

Serie Nacional[edit]

Championships by Team[edit]

Yearly Results[edit]

Serie Year(s) Teams Champion Manager Record Playoffs Second Place
I 1962 4 Occidentales Fermín Guerra 18 - 9 (0.667) none Azucareros
II 1962-1963 4 Industriales Ramón Carneado 16 - 14 (0.533) 2 - 1 (0.667) Orientales
III 1963-1964 4 Industriales Ramón Carneado 22 - 13 (0.629) none Occidentales
IV 1964-1965 4 Industriales Ramón Carneado 25 - 14 (0.641) none Occidentales
V 1965-1966 6 Industriales Ramón Carneado 40 - 25 (0.615) none Orientales
VI 1966-1967 6 Orientales Roberto Ledo 36 - 29 (0.554) none Industriales
VII 1967-1968 12 La Habana Juan Gómez 74 - 25 (0.748) none Industriales
VIII 1968-1969 12 Azucareros Servio Borges 69 - 30 (0.697) none Industriales
IX 1969-1970 12 Henequeneros Miguel Ángel Domínguez 50 - 16 (0.758) none Mineros
X 1970-1971 12 Azucareros Pedro Pérez Delgado 49 - 16 (0.754) none La Habana
XI 1971-1972 12 Azucareros Servio Borges 52 - 14 (0.788) 2 - 1 (0.667) Mineros
XII 1972-1973 14 Industriales Pedro Chávez 53 - 25 (0.679) none La Habana
XIII 1973-1974 14 La Habana Jorge Trigoura 52 - 26 (0.667) none Constructores
XIV 1974-1975 14 Agricultores Orlando Leroux 24 - 15 (0.615) none Vegueros
XV 1975-1976 14 Ganaderos Carlos Gómez 29 - 9 (0.763) none Metropolitanos
XVI 1976-1977 14 Citricultores Juan Bregio 26 - 12 (0.684) none Vegueros
XVII 1977-1978 18 Vegueros José Miguel Pineda 36 - 14 (0.720) none Industriales
XVIII 1978-1979 18 Sancti Spíritus Cándido Andrade 39 - 12 (0.765) none Villa Clara
XIX 1979-1980 18 Santiago de Cuba Manuel Miyar 35 - 16 (0.686) none Villa Clara
XX 1980-1981 18 Vegueros José Miguel Pineda 36 - 15 (0.706) none Villa Clara
XXI 1981-1982 18 Vegueros Jorge Fuentes 36 - 15 (0.706) none Citricultores
XXII 1982-1983 18 Villa Clara Eduardo Luis Martín 41 - 8 (0.837) none Citricultores
XXIII 1983-1984 18 Citricultores Tomás Soto 52 - 23 (0.693) none Industriales
XXIV 1984-1985 18 Vegueros Jorge Fuentes 57 - 18 (0.760) none Camagüey
XXV 1985-1986 18 Industriales Pedro Chávez 37 - 11 (0.771) 6 - 0 (1.000) Vegueros
XXVI 1986-1987 18 Vegueros Jorge Fuentes 34 - 13 (0.723) 5 - 1 (0.833) Santiago de Cuba
XXVII 1987-1988 18 Vegueros Jorge Fuentes 39 - 9 (0.813) 5 - 1 (0.833) Santiago de Cuba
XXVIII 1988-1989 18 Santiago de Cuba Higinio Vélez 29 - 19 (0.604) 5 - 1 (0.833) Industriales
XXIX 1989-1990 18 Henequeneros Gerardo Junco 37 - 11 (0.771) 4 - 2 (0.667) Santiago de Cuba
XXX 1990-1991 18 Henequeneros Gerardo Junco 33 - 15 (0.688) 6 - 1 (0.857) Camagüey
XXXI 1991-1992 18 Industriales Jorge Trigoura 36 - 12 (0.750) 7 - 1 (0.875) Henequeneros
XXXII 1992-1993 16 Villa Clara Pedro Jova 42 - 23 (0.646) 8 - 3 (0.727) Pinar del Río
XXXIII 1993-1994 16 Villa Clara Pedro Jova 43 - 22 (0.662) 8 - 5 (0.615) Industriales
XXXIV 1994-1995 16 Villa Clara Pedro Jova 44 - 18 (0.710) 8 - 2 (0.800) Pinar del Río
XXXV 1995-1996 16 Industriales Pedro Medina 41 - 22 (0.651) 8 - 2 (0.800) Villa Clara
XXXVI 1996-1997 16 Pinar del Río Jorge Fuentes 50 - 15 (0.769) 8 - 0 (1.000) Villa Clara
XXXVII 1997-1998 16 Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola 56 - 34 (0.622) 11 - 5 (0.688) Santiago de Cuba
XXXVIII 1998-1999 16 Santiago de Cuba Higinio Vélez 46 - 44 (0.511) 11 - 7 (0.611) Industriales
XXXIX 1999-2000 16 Santiago de Cuba Higinio Vélez 62 - 28 (0.689) 11 - 0 (1.000) Pinar del Río
XL 2000-2001 16 Santiago de Cuba Higinio Vélez 55 - 35 (0.611) 11 - 4 (0.733) Pinar del Río
XLI 2001-2002 16 Holguín Héctor Hernández 55 - 35 (0.611) 11 - 6 (0.647) Sancti Spíritus
XLII 2002-2003 16 Industriales Rey Vicente Anglada 66 - 23 (0.742) 11 - 2 (0.846) Villa Clara
XLIII 2003-2004 16 Industriales Rey Vicente Anglada 52 - 38 (0.578) 11 - 4 (0.733) Villa Clara
XLIV 2004-2005 16 Santiago de Cuba Antonio Pacheco 55 - 35 (0.611) 11 - 2 (0.846) La Habana
XLV 2005-2006 16 Industriales Rey Vicente Anglada 56 - 34 (0.622) 11 - 7 (0.611) Santiago de Cuba
XLVI 2006-2007 16 Santiago de Cuba Antonio Pacheco 57 - 32 (0.640) 11 - 6 (0.647) Industriales
XLVII 2007-2008 16 Santiago de Cuba Antonio Pacheco 61 - 29 (0.678) 11 - 0 (1.000) Pinar del Río
XLVIII 2008-2009 16 La Habana Esteban Lombillo 57 - 33 (0.633) 12 - 4 (0.750) Villa Clara
XLVIV 2009-2010 16 Industriales Germán Mesa 47 - 43 (0.522) 12 - 6 (0.667) Villa Clara
L 2010-2011 16 Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola 50 - 39 (0.562) 12 - 6 (0.667) Ciego de Ávila
LI 2011-2012 17 Ciego de Ávila Roger Machado 54 - 42 (0.563) 12 - 6 (0.667) Industriales
LII 2012-2013 16 Villa Clara Ramón Moret 24 - 21 (0.533) 8 - 2 (0.800) Matanzas
LIII 2013-2014 16 Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola 52 - 35 (0.598) 8 - 5 (0.615) Matanzas
LIV 2014-2015 16 Ciego de Ávila Roger Machado 50 - 37 (0.575) 8 - 4 (0.667) Isla de la Juventud
LV 2015-2016 16 Ciego de Ávila Roger Machado 54 - 32 (0.628) 8 - 3 (0.727) Pinar del Río
LVI 2016-2017 16 Granma Carlos Martí 50 - 40 (0.556) 8 - 3 (0.727) Ciego de Ávila
LVII 2017-2018 16 Granma Carlos Martí 49-39 (0.557) 8 - 4 (0.667) Las Tunas

Súper Liga[edit]

Championships by Team[edit]

Yearly Results[edit]

Serie Year Teams Champion Championship
Runnerup Manager
Team Record (Place) Team Record (Place)
I 2002 4 Habaneros 16 - 11 (1) 2 - 1 Centrales 16 - 11 (2) Armando Johnson
II 2003 4 Centrales 13 - 7 (1) 2 - 1 Occidentales 11 - 10 (2) Lourdes Gourriel Sr.
III 2004 4 Orientales 7 - 8 (2) 2 - 0 Industriales 10 - 5 (1) Higinio Vélez
IV 2005 5 Occidentales 15 - 13 (2) 2 - 0 Centrales 16 - 10 (1) Rey Anglada

Liga de Desarrollo[edit]

Championships by Team[edit]

Yearly Results[edit]

Year(s) Champion Province Manager
1992-1993 Vegueros Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola
1993-1994 Vegueros Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola
1994-1995 Vegueros Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola
1995-1996 Vegueros Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola
1996-1997 Vegueros Pinar del Río Alfonso Urquiola
1997-1998 Vegueros Pinar del Río Juan Castro
1998-1999 Vegueros Pinar del Río Juan Castro
2004 Agropecuarios La Habana Fernando García
2005 Constructores Ciudad de la Habana José Luís Boss

Campeonato Provincial[edit]

Championships by Team[edit]

Yearly Results[edit]

Year Champion (Province) Runnerup (Province) Champion Manager
1992 Pinar del Río A (Pinar del Río) Calixto García (Holguín) Alfonso Urquiola
1993 Pinar del Río A (Pinar del Río) Morón (Ciego de Ávila) Alfonso Urquiola
1994 Pinar del Río A (Pinar del Río) Campechuela (Granma) Alfonso Urquiola
1995 Guantánamo (Guantánamo) Matanzas (Matanzas) Epifanio Dominico
1996 Calixto García (Holguín) Matanzas (Matanzas) René Vera
1997 Matanzas (Matanzas) Guantánamo (Guantánamo) Armando Ferrer
1998 Guantánamo (Guantánamo) Sancti Spíritus (Sancti Spíritus) Epifanio Dominico
1999 Guantánamo (Guantánamo) La Lisa (Ciudad de la Habana) Francisco Acosta
2000 Las Tunas (Las Tunas) Pinar del Río A (Pinar del Río) Reinaldo Sabido
2001 Las Tunas (Las Tunas) Caimito (La Habana) Reinaldo Sabido
2002 Bayamo (Granma) Yaguajay (Sancti Spíritus) Ramón Rodríguez
2003 Guantánamo (Guantánamo) Habana del Este (Ciudad de la Habana) Epifanio Dominico
2004 1ro de Enero (Ciego de Ávila) Boyeros (Ciudad de la Habana) Jorge Domínguez
2005 Pinar del Río (Pinar del Río) Calixto García (Holguín) Primitivo Díaz
2006 Bayamo (Granma) Jovellanos (Matanzas) Ramón Rodríguez

Notable Players[edit]

Related Articles[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Peter C. Bjarkman: A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
  • Roberto González Echevarría: The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball, Oxford University Press, 1999.

External Links[edit]