Today, a brief post. Venezuela begins play today in the Serie del Caribe, or Caribbean Series, at historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The series was the brainchild of a Venezuelan businessman/baseball-man, Pablo Morales, based on the successful Interamerican Series. The Caribbean Series began in 1949 with four countries: Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. From 1961, when Fidel Castro suspended professional sports in Cuba, to 1970, the series took a hiatus.
It began in earnest in 1970 again with its first Venezuelan champion, Navagantes de Magallanes, who won on their home turf in Caracas; they’d repeat in 1979 in San Juan. Three Venezuelan teams have repeated as zonal champions: Magallanes, Zulia, and the Leones of Caracas (fittingly, Sr. Morales was their president for several years). The Tigres of Aragua were the last Venezuelan champion, led by manager Buddy Bailey, in 2009.
This year Cuba is back, along with Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Venezuela, represented by the Caribes of Anzoátegui, kick off the round-robin first round against their boricua hosts tonight.
It may get scant notice in the North American press, but the Serie del Caribe still attracts attention in the cauldron of beisbol where it began. Enjoy it, if you can find it!
Pablo Morales died at age 83 in Tampa, Florida last September, just one month prior to the beginning of the Venezuelan League Calendar which he was also instrumental in implementing. Rest in peace.