History of baseball in Venezuela

From BR Bullpen

The history of baseball in Venezuela dates to the early 1890s, when baseball was introduced to the country by Venezuelan students who had studied at American universities.


Early history (1890s-1920s)[edit]

The game of baseball was introduced to the country by Venezuelan students who had studied at American universities. Upon returning home after finishing their studies, they tought the the game to their friends in Caracas, in the early 1890s. In May 1895, brothers Amenodoro, Augusto, Emilio, and Gustavo Franklin established the first organized baseball club, Caracas BBC. The team had been practicing every Sunday for the preceding three months at a plot of open land in front of the train station in Quebrada Honda. The field would soon be known as the Caracas Baseball Club Exercise Field.

The club organized the first official game in Venezuela as a way to gain publicity for baseball. On May 22, 1895, they placed an ad in El Tiempo, a local newspaper calling the game a "new kind of Chess game, Base Bale". On the following day at 3:30 PM, two teams comprised of Caracas BBC members took the field. The teams were "The Red" and "The Blue", with the latter, managed by Amenodoro Franklin, winning the game by a score of 28 to 19. Some of the players involved were the Franklin brothers, Adolfo Inchausti, Alfredo Mosquera, brothers Jaime and Roberto Todd, and Mariano Becerra - all of whom were former students in the United States and are considered the pioneers of the game in Venezuela - as well as three Cubans living in Caracas, Manuel and Joaquin Gonzalez and Emilio Gramer.

The newspaper El Tiempo's coverage of the game did not help as many people believed that they were going to watch a chess game, and the following day's recap of the game described the environment more than the game itself: "...it looked like a carnival Sunday, without disguises or flowers or candies or reddish things. The delight of the people was so high that it was not even one complain about the poverty on the Republic was heard during the afternoon. And as in other times, people had fun, at least the part of the population who has more elements to do it.” Another newspaper, El Pregonero, mocked the coverage of the game but also stated that “this game of Base Ball provides health and strength to the body and happiness to the spirit." Three months later, the magazine El Cojo Ilustrado published the first pictures of base ball in the country on August 15 sent by Mariano Becerra. Still, within a few days, after the game, the city was enthralled with the new sport and Alfredo Mosquera's father, the owner of Caracas Beer Company, built the first baseball stadium in the country, Stand del Este, with stands and official dimensions based on the American rules near Petare train station, in a Caracas suburb.

The game was very popular by the turn of the century. In 1912, William H. Phelps created a baseball store in Maracaibo and later formed a three team league in the city comprised of "The Red", "The Blue", and "The Black". The game quickly grew in Maracaibo and in 1920, there were thirty clubs and ten ballparks the city; othercities also had clubs including Valencia and Maracay. In 1917, the club "Magallanes" was founded; it is the nation's oldest currently exisiting club and is now known as Navegantes del Magallanes.

By the 1920s, clubs included Estrellas Rojas, San Martín, Indio Libre, Nacional, Magallanes, Sucre, 24 de Julio, Muchachos, Ideal, Almendares, Independencia, Los Samanes, San Bernandino, Vargas, and Niágara.

Professional baseball (1927-1945)[edit]

Professional baseball began in Venezuela in 1927, with the founding of the Federación Venezolana de Béisbol. The first championship took place in July with four teams, Maracay, Royal Criollos, Santa Marta, and San Martín. On July 20, Maracay won a controversial title as it was awarded by club president Gomez. equipment. In 1930, the Association of Professional Baseball as a controlling body for all of Venezuelan baseball.

Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (1945-?)[edit]

Venezuela in Major League Baseball[edit]

The first Venezuelan to play in the Major Leagues was pitcher Alejandro Carrasquel who debuted for the Washington Senators on April 23, 1939. Since then over 200, Venezuelans have debuted in the majors.

Venezuela in international baseball[edit]

The national team made its first apperance at the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games. Since then it has won three Baseball World Cups; in 1941 Baseball World Cup,1944, and 1945, slong with two second-place finishes and four third-place finishes. The team has won the baseball competetion at both the Central American Games Pan American Games once. It has won the Caribbean Series six times since entering the competetion in {{subst:sdc|1970}}, most recently in {{subst:sdc|2006}}.