Are you a fan of the American pastime in Central America? Did you know that baseball in Central America is one thing, and in two countries it is the main sport? If you didn’t know that, well, now you do!
When people call baseball “America’s pastime”, they almost always think of America, meaning the United States. Which is good and as it should be. After all, there’s nothing more quintessentially American than baseball, is there?
The summer sun, the hot dogs, the history. There is something magical about baseball and its place in American culture. But wait a second.
Did you know that baseball is not only popular in the United States? Did you know that if you look south of the border, you’ll also find another gambling-loving America?
Yes, Latin America is not just about football – baseball is also popular in many Latin American countries. In fact, for many Latin American countries, baseball is the number one sport.
Think Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In all these countries, children grow up dreaming of becoming baseball stars rather than football idols. Many of them do too. Some 20% of Major League Baseball pros came from one of these four countries in 2021. And even countries like Mexico and Colombia, where football is much bigger, have Major League Baseball players.
Baseball, in other words, is big in Latin America.
There is also the story. The Havana Baseball Club in Cuba was founded in 1864. Baseball has existed in Mexico and Venezuela since the late 19th century, when the two countries created their own leagues.
And baseball in Central America? Yes, it is popular and also has a history.
Apart from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the other countries mentioned, baseball is also big in Nicaragua and Panama. And by big, we mean massive. Both countries, despite the rise of football, still have baseball as their primary sport. That might change in the future, but for now at least, the rules of baseball in these two Central American countries.
Like the other countries we mentioned, both Nicaragua and Panama have seen many players end up in the major leagues in the United States. It is a source of pride for both countries when this happens.
Today, however, we’re not looking at Nicaraguan and Panamanian baseball players in the majors. That’s a whole other topic, and we may well visit it one day. Today we are going to take a look at some of the best professional baseball teams in Central America.
Your main interest in baseball might be World Series predictions every year, but if you’re a real fan, you might want to learn a little more about other baseball cultures. If so, we hope this article helps you.
Baseball in Nicaragua
Inaugurated in 1956, the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Nacional (LBPN) is the professional league of Nicaragua. It’s a small league, with only five teams from the cities of Chinandega, Esteli, León, Managua and Rivas competing each year in November and December.
Apart from the LBPN, there is also the main national competition with teams from all departments of Nicaragua. Called on Campeonato Nacional de Béisbol Superior German Pomares, this competition also includes the five main teams of the LBPN and takes place from February to August. This means that there is professional baseball in Nicaragua for most of the year.
Leones of Leon
The Leones de León are one of the best baseball teams in Nicaragua. With 19 National Championship titles, six LBPN crowns, plus the 2019 title from the now defunct Latin American Series, we’d also say they’re among the best in Central America. Maybe even Latin America.
The Leones play their home matches at the Estadio Héroes y Mártires de Septiembre in León. They have a great style of play and the crowd loves to watch their games live. Every time the Leones win something – which happens often – the town goes wild in celebration. Nicaragua takes its baseball seriously and the fine people of León are as passionate about their team as they come.
Another team competing in both competitions in Nicaragua is the Chinandega Tigers. They are a proud club and one of the newest teams in Nicaragua. We love Tigers because Chinandega holds a place in our hearts. It’s a great little town and also the hottest place in Central America. The way these guys can play baseball in this heat is amazing to us.
Giants of Rivas
Another of our favorite baseball teams in Nicaragua is the Gigantes de Rivas, who play in Rivas in the south of the country. If you’re hanging out in the seaside town of San Juan del Sur, one of Nicaragua’s main expat hubs, it’s an easy and fun day out to go watch the Gigantes.
They have a terrific crowd and their home games are wonderful to watch live.
Baseball in Panama
Panama is the other Central American country with a professional baseball league. Probeis is a small league, made even smaller during the pandemic, when Toros de Herrera folded, turning a four-team league into a three-team league.
The demise of the Toros de Herrera was particularly shocking, as they won the Caribbean Series in 2019. This series is an international baseball competition held annually with league winners Colombian, Dominican, Mexican, Panamanian, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan . professional leagues. The Toros played some great baseball.
The remaining teams in Probeis are David’s Chiriqui Federales, Los Santos Astronautas and Panama City‘s Aguilas Metropolitanas.
Despite the small size of the Panamanian league and the problems caused by the pandemic, baseball in Panama remains popular and competitive. Everyone wants their team to play in the Caribbean Series.
Outside of Nicaragua and Panama, baseball has some popularity elsewhere in Central America.
You won’t find professional leagues or ballparks, but you will find a game, if you want to watch, and a team, if you want to play. The large number of Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica makes baseball popular there (head to Sabana Park in San Jose for a weekend to see what we mean), while you’ll also find the sport played in El Salvador and Honduras.
If you’re looking for baseball in Central America, you’ll find it on some level no matter where you are.