The history of the Caribbean Baseball Series is both fascinating and indicative of how politics can only be held at bay but never removed entirely from the world of sports.
The Caribbean Series- La Serie del Caribe– is still an annual baseball competition that brings together the winning teams of the professional winter leagues of member countries of the Professional Confederation of baseball in the Caribbean made up of The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. In the case of Mexico, the representative is the champion of the Mexican Pacific League. Each team may be reinforced with the best players from the rest of the teams in the League.
The project to create a series that would bring together the best teams in the Caribbean had its beginnings on October 18, 1946, when the first Inter-American Series was opened in Caracas. It was the brain child of baseball fan and businessman Venezuelan Jesus Corao. For a month the teams clashed: Los Sultanes de Monterrey, of Mexico; the All Cubans, Cuba; The Bushwicks, of United States; and El Cervecería of Caracas, Venezuela. That first inter-American series was won by the American team and the Americans dominated in the next three consecutive series until 1950. The games were all held in Caracas. In 1950, however, when the last of these Championships took place, the host club, El Cervecería de Caracas won.
The public’s reaction to the Inter-American series was so good, that the Venezuelan businessmen Oscar “El Negro” Prieto and Pablo Morales came up with an idea to create the Caribbean Series. By the end of 1948, Prieto and Morales presented the idea in Miami before a Convention of the Caribbean Baseball Federation, consisting of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama and Venezuela.
On August 21, 1949, in Havana, the agreement for the Caribbean series was signed. The competition would involve the participation of the four top championship teams of the member countries of the Baseball Federation of the Caribbean. The four teams would face two rounds in six days, with two daily games during the month of February.
For two years, 1949 and 1950, both the Inter-American series as well as The Caribbean Series were held, the latter being inaugurated in 1949 in the Grand Stadium of Havana, also known as “Estadio del Cerro” in Havana, and was played for the second time in The Sixto Escobar stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This first stage of the Caribbean Series lasted until 1960. Of the 12 competitions that took place during that era, Cuba won seven, Puerto Rico four, Panama one and Venezuela none.
In the next post we will continue with how the second stage of The Caribbean Series evolved.
This story continues.