History of baseball in Puerto Rico

From BR Bullpen

The history of baseball in Puerto Rico to the latter part of the 19th century.


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Early history (1897-1938)[edit]

The game of baseball was first introduced to the island by a group of Puerto Ricans and Cubans who had learned the game in the United States. At first the sport was not well received by the local press and general public, it was looked upon as a silly game. The first two baseball clubs were founded in 1897; the Almendares Baseball Club, owned by Francisco Alamo Armas and the Borinquen Baseball Club owned by Santos Filippi. According to the newspaper El Pais, on January 11, 1898, the first organized baseball game was played in Puerto Rico at the velodrome which was located at Stop 15 (Parada 15) in Santurce. There the Borinquen team beat the Almendares by a score of 3 to 0. The first game to go a complete nine innings was played on January 30, 1898 and the Borinquen once again beating the Almendares with a score of 9 to 3.

After the end of the Spanish-American War in the summer of 1898, Puerto Rico became a territory of United States as part of its peace treaty with Spain. American soldiers stationed in Puerto Rico were permitted to organize a baseball club to play against the local clubs as diversional outlet. On November 4, 1900 the Almendares Baseball Club composed of Puerto Ricans and Cubans beat the American Baseball Club of the Second Regiment of Infantry with a score of 32 to 18. After the war, many people began to play the game as it spread across the island and was taught in schools with almost every town having its own baseball team that played on Sundays and holidays. An early important team was Escuela Superior de Ponce, which would play baseball from town to town and a notable player was Amos Iglesias-Van Pelt, who had been born in Brooklyn, New York. During this era, Negro League clubs such as the All-Americans, Cuban Stars, Lincoln Giants, and Royals Giants would tour the island playing games against local competition. The first Puerto Rican that receive a tryout from a Major League team was William Guzman, but he was unable to join the club as his parents would not let him go so he could finish being a lawyer. One of the first stars was José "Pepe" Santana who was known for his tremendous power.

Professional league (1938-?)[edit]

In 1938, the Liga Semi-Pro de Béisbol de Puerto Rico, a semi-professional league, was founded by Teofilo Maldonado and Enrique Huyke. The league was included in the National Baseball Congress of the United States'. The original six clubs were the Criollos de Caguas, Grises Orientales de Humacao, Indios de Mayagüez, Piratas Kofresí de Ponce, Senadores de San Juan and the Venerables de Guayama. The season would consist of two rounds during a single calendar year, with the winners of each meeting in a final to determine the league champion; if a team won both rounds then it would automatically be declared champion. In 1939, the league expanded to include the Tiburones de Aguadilla and the Cangrejeros de Santurce. In 1941, Rafael Delgado Márquez proposed that the Liga desafiliate from the National Baseball Congress and return to its original name, the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico.

Modern era[edit]

Puerto Rico in Major League Baseball[edit]

Puerto Rico has had over 200 players in the Major Leagues, beginning with pitcher Hiram Bithorn in 1942. The country's professional league has played host to some of the best players in the MLB.

Puerto Rico in international baseball[edit]