History of baseball in the Americas

From BR Bullpen

The Americas have been the central region in baseball history. The United States of America has been home to the vast majority of franchises in Major League Baseball, the highest tier of baseball in the world. In the 19th Century and early 20th Century, all major leaguers were born or at least raised in the Americas. It was not until 1964 when Masanori Murakami became the first Asian-trained player to make the big leagues. Win Remmerswaal was the first European-trained player in 1979 and Craig Shipley was the first Australian-trained player in 1986. Until the 1990s, Murakami was the only Asian-trained player to make the majors. So for almost the entire 20th Century, MLB was composed at least 99% of players from the Americas.

While the USA has been in the forefront of baseball, many other countries in the Americas have played prominent roles. The Cuban Winter League was formed in the 19th Century and Cuban players were appearing in both the major leagues and Negro Leagues by the early 20th, including stars like Dolf Luque, Jose Mendez, Cristobal Torriente and Martin Dihigo. The Cuban national team dominated international competition during the 20th Century, winning the majority of the Amateur World Series/Baseball World Cups and Intercontinental Cups. Either Cuba or the US won the first four Olympics to feature baseball as a medal sport.

The Mexican League was formed in the 1920s, with Mexicans making the majors. Mel Almada became the first native Mexican to play in MLB in 1933 and others quickly followed suit. In the 1940s, many of the world's top players appeared in the Mexican League due to MLB's color barrier and some big-spending Mexican owners - Hall of Famers such as Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Monte Irvin, Cool Papa Bell and Dihigo all came to the country.

The Puerto Rican League was established in the 1930s and Hiram Bithorn became the first Puerto Rican big leaguer in 1942. The island's most notable products have included superstars Roberto Clemente, Roberto Alomar and Ivan Rodriguez. The Venezuelan League is nearly as old and Venezuela has produced a number of Caribbean Series champions and MLB stars.

The Dominican Republic took longer to produce a big leaguer than some of the other Latin nations and the Dominican League was not even involved in the first incarnation of the Caribbean Series, but by the dawn of the 21st Century, Dominican clubs were dominating the Caribbean Series and the small island nation was second to the USA in major leaguers produced.

Canada has been home to two major league teams, the Toronto Blue Jays and Montréal Expos, as well as a number of AAA clubs. Canada has produced notable major leaguers like Ferguson Jenkins, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau and Matt Stairs.

Panama and Nicaragua have been prominent in Central America, each producing a number of big leaguers as well as winning Medals in the Baseball World Cup and other international competitions. Colombia, the Netherlands Antilles, the United States Virgin Islands and Aruba have all produced multiple big leaguers.

After that, many American nations have shorter or less notable presences in baseball, especially in South America. Brazil has not produced a major leaguer (through 2010), though they have produced a few players for Nippon Pro Baseball or the Chinese Professional Baseball League as well as some players who made the high minors in the US. Argentina has also not produced a big leaguer, with its top players making it to the Italian Baseball League or the low US minors through 2010.

Further Reading[edit]

History of baseball
Origins · 19th century · 20th century · 21st centuryBaseball Origins Committee
by continent
Africa · Americas · Asia · Europe · Oceania
by country
Australia · Canada · China · Cuba · Dominican Republic · Germany · Great Britain · Italy · Japan ·
Mexico · Netherlands · Puerto Rico · South Korea · Taiwan · United States · Venezuela
by type
Amateur · College · International · Professional · Women's
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