Liga Nicaragüense de Béisbol Profesional
|Liga Nicaragüense de Béisbol Profesional|
|Founded||[[March 3, 1956]]|
|No. of teams||4|
The Liga Nicaragüense de Béisbol Profesional (LNBP) is the major professional baseball league in Nicaragua that plays its schedule during the winter. It traces its history to an earlier league that existed in the country for ten seasons in the 1950s and 1960s. It currently does not participate in the Serie del Caribe.
Stage 1: 1956-1967
The first Nicaraguan league was founded in 1956 following a tour of the country by famous players. On March 3, the first game in league history was played between San Fernando and Bóer. The season was suspended after the September 29 assassination of Nicaraguan president Anastasio Somoza García. The season resumed in February 1957 and ended with the Leones de León winning the championship.
In first season, the league operated as an outlaw league and would raid teams, especially those from the Mexican League and the level of play was very low. During the second half of the season León established a working contract with the Havana Sugar Kings of the Triple-A International League. After the season's end, two of the league's Cuban players joined the parent club. Conrado Marrero went 12-3 and had a 1.67 ERA for León and joined the Sugar Kings on July 27; Roberto Fernandez of San Fernando also played for the AAA team.
In August 1957, the league became affiliated with Organized Baseball and began to play as a winter league. The 1957-1958 season saw León wins the league championship over Cinco Estrellas. Advancing to the Pan-American Series, the team out-played the Vanytor of Colombia and the Mazatlán Deer of Mexico to win the tournament. The following two championship saw increased parity as all four teams placed either first or second. The 1960-1961 season was not held for financial reasons.
The 1961-1962 season saw the league reemerging by combining with the Panamanian League. The league featured two Nicaraguan clubs Indios de Bóer and Cinco Estrellas and two Panamanian clubs, Cerveza Balboa and Marlboro. The league played a two half split schedule with the first half being played at the National Stadium in Nicaragua from November 10 and the second half being played in Panama starting on December 21. The Nicaraguan clubs were allowed eight foreigners while the Panamanians could have four. Marlboro, winners of the second half, won the title over Bóer - winners of the first half - four games to three with one tie. The team went to the Inter-American Series, which had replaced the Caribbean Series a year earlier - and finished last with a 1-7 record.
The 1962-1963 season saw Bóer win both halves in tie-breaking playoffs. The Indios won the first-half title over Oriental by sweeping the first two games of the three-game set. In the second half, they were tied with León, but won the best-of-three series two games to one. Bóer finished second at the Inter-American Series in Panama.
Cinco Estrellas became the league's second Caribbean champion - and the first to win a major international championship - by winning the 1964 Inter-American Series after capturing the 1963-1964 league crown.
The league folded in October 1967 after the Nicaraguan government withdrew its financial support of the league. The government subsidized the league with $30,000 annually, and the league's president, Roberto Chavez claimed that in its last season, the league lost $20,000. During the first series, Bóer and León were the most successful teams with three championships each.
Stage 2: 2004-08; 2009?-
In 2004, the league was reestablished as the Liga Nicaragüense de Béisbol Profesional, marking the return of professional ball to Nicaragua after nearly four decades. This new era lasted four seasons before play was suspended for the winter of 2008-09. As journalist Tim Rogers wrote, "the last two seasons...ended disastrously, with teams forfeiting, fighting each other on the field or collapsing in financial ruin."
On July 28, 2009, the directors of the LNBP announced that the league would return for the 2009 season. The traditional teams -- Bóer, León, and Chinandega -- are set. The fourth team will be Granada (birthplace of Dennis Martinez).
The league has featured many notable players, including Ferguson Jenkins who played for León and is in the Hall of Fame. Other major leagues who played in the league include Bert Campaneris, Mike Cuellar, Joe Hicks, Jim Kaat, Phil Regan, Doug Rader, Dick Scott, and Marv Throneberry.
The 1962-1963 season had the greatest concentration of foreign talent with players such as Ron Henry, Jim Hughes, Lou Jackson, Jose Ramon Lopez, Silverio Perez, Lee Tate, Fred Valentine, and Sandy Valdespino. In addition, there were Nicaraguans stars on the clubs including Octavio Abea, utility player Duncan Campbell, shortstop Rigo Mena and pitchers Willie Hooker and René "el Ñato" Paredes.
- Cerveza Balboa (Panama)
- Cinco Estrellas
- Marlboro (Panama)
- Fieras del San Fernando
- Orientales de Granada