There are about seventy-five players in Major League Baseball who were born in Puerto Rico, but now live and play baseball in the United States. That got me thinking. Is there a Puerto Rican league, and is baseball as popular in Puerto Rico as it is in the United States. I set out to answer these questions while we were in Puerto Rico.
Turns out, there is a Puerto Rican baseball league. Baseball has been around for centuries in Puerto Rico, but the organized league started in the early 1900s. They play in the winter time which is the opposite from us as we play in the summer. The name of the league has changed several times, but the league itself has been around for manny years. We happened to be in Ponce and there’s a team called the Leones de Ponce. Get it, Leones de Ponce? Ponce de Leon. Never mind. LOL!
We went to see the Leones de Ponce play the Senadores de San Juan at the Estadio Francisco Montaner in Ponce. We wore red and white to fit in with the home crowd in the packed stadium. It looked like a typical baseball stadium in the United States. People were heckling the batter and there was music. The DJ kept playing some track with a trombone as the main instrument. I guess it was their version of the baseball instrumental.
As I looked around the stadium I saw the typical advertisements and sponsors you would see at a stadium back home. There were car companies, cell phone companies, the typical alcohol companies, and local mom and pop companies. It was cool because the banners were in the same places. There was one surprise though. One of the players hit a home run and the DJ started playing “Who Let the Dogs Out?” The people were dancing and singing along as if it were a new song on the radio. We were cracking up!!!
There are five teams in the Puerto Rico Baseball League, and the winner of the Puerto Rican equivalent to the World Series goes on to play in the Caribbean Series. It’s like the Olympics of baseball for Latin America. Now that I think about it, I think I remember seeing something on ESPN Deportes about the Caribbean Series being held in Puerto Rico in 2011. That’s just confirmation that baseball really is big in Puerto Rico.