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Baseball in Central America

Baseball in Central America: What You Should Know

Are you a fan of America’s pastime in Central America? Did you know that baseball in Central America is a thing, and in two countries, it’s the main sport? If you didn’t know this, well, now you do!

When people call baseball “America’s pastime,” they’re almost always thinking of America – aka the United States. Which is fine and as it should be. After all, there’s nothing more quintessentially American than baseball, is there?

The summer sunshine, the hotdogs, the history. There’s something magical about baseball and its place in American culture. But hold up a second. Did you know that it’s not only the United States of America where baseball is popular? Did you know that if you look south of the border, you’ll also find another America in love with the game?

Yes, Latin America isn’t all about soccer – baseball is popular in many LatAm countries, too. In fact, for a good few LatAm countries, baseball is the number one sport.

Think Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. In all these countries kids grow dreaming of becoming baseball stars rather than soccer idols. Many of them actually make it, too. Some 38% of pros in Major League Baseball came from Latin American countries in 2022, most of them from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba. Beyond those countries, they even come from places like Mexico and Colombia, where soccer is a far bigger sport.

Baseball, in other words, is big in Latin America. There’s history, too. The Havana Baseball Club in Cuba was founded in 1864. Baseball has been a thing in Mexico and Venezuela since the late 19th century, when both countries started their own leagues.

And Baseball in Central America?

Yes, it’s popular there, too. As well as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the other Latin American countries mentioned, baseball is also big in Nicaragua and Panama. And by big, we mean massive. Both countries, despite the major rise of soccer, still have baseball as their main sports. That may change in the future, but for now at least, baseball rules in these two Central American countries.

Like the other countries we mentioned, Nicaragua and Panama have both had many players end up in the major leagues in the United States. This is a point of pride for both countries when this happens.

Today, though, we’re not looking at Nicaraguan and Panamanian baseball players in the majors. That’s another subject altogether, and one we may well visit someday. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best professional baseball teams in Central America. Let’s get started.

Baseball in Nicaragua

Inaugurated in 1956, the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Nacional (LBPN) is Nicaragua’s professional league. It’s a small league, with only five teams from the cities of Chinandega, Esteli, León, Managua, and Rivas who play each other each year in November and December.

Outside of the LBPN, there’s also the main countrywide competition with teams from every department in Nicaragua. Called the Campeonato Nacional de Béisbol Superior Germán Pomares, this competition also includes the five main LBPN teams and runs from February to August. That means there’s pro baseball going on in Nicaragua for most of the year.

Leones de León

The Leones de León is one of the best baseball teams in Nicaragua. With 19 national championship titles, six LBPN crowns, plus the 2019 title in the now defunct Latin American Series, we’d also say they’re up there among the best in Central America. Maybe even Latin America. The Leones play their home games at the Estadio Héroes y Mártires de Septiembre in León. They have a beautiful style of play and the crowd loves watching their games live. Whenever the Leones win something – which is a frequent occurance – the city goes wild in celebration. Nicaragua takes its baseball seriously, and the good people of León are as passionate about their team as you can get.

Indios del Bóer

The Indios del Bóer are one the most successful team in Nicaraguan baseball history. Hailing from the capital city of Managua, they hold the record for most LBPN championships with nine titles, beating their rivals from León in that regard. The Indios boast a passionate fanbase known for their vibrant displays of support at Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez. Their rivalry with the Leones de León is legendary, creating an electric atmosphere whenever these two powerhouses clash.

Tigres de Chinandega

The Tigres de Chinandega is another team competing in both competitions in Nicaragua. It’s a proud club, and one of Nicaragua’s newest teams. We love the Tigres because Chinandega holds a place in our hearts. It’s a great little town and also the hottest place in Central America. How these guys can play baseball in that heat is amazing to us.

Gigantes de Rivas

Another one of our favorite baseball teams in Nicaragua is the Gigantes de Rivas, playing out of Rivas in the south of the country. If you’re hanging out in the beach town of San Juan del Sur, one of Nicaragua’s main expat centers, it’s an easy and fun day out to go watch the Gigantes. They have a wonderful crowd and their home games are beautiful to watch live.

Tren del Norte

The Tren del Norte (Train of the North) represent the city of Estelí. Part of the Real Estelí sports group, which includes soccer, volleyball, and basketball, the Tren del Norte have a dedicated following, known for their enthusiastic cheers and energetic support. The team brings a fresh perspective and youthful spirit to the LBPN, making them a team to watch in the coming seasons.

Baseball in Panama

Panama is the other country in Central America with a professional baseball league. Probeis is a tiny league, made even tinier during the pandemic, when the Toros de Herrera folded, turning a four-team league into a three-team league.

The demise of the Toros de Herrera was especially shocking, seeing as they won the Caribbean Series in 2019. This series is an international baseball competition held each year featuring the league winners from the Colombian, Dominican, Mexican, Panamanian, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, and (for the first time in 2024) Nicaraguan professional leagues.

The remaining teams in Probeis are the Chiriqui Federales from David, Panama Metro from Panama City, and the Aguilas Metropolitanas also from Panama City. Despite the tiny size of the Panamanian league, baseball in Panama remains popular and competitive. Everyone wants their team to play in the Caribbean series.

Baseball Elsewhere in Central America

Outside Nicaragua and Panama, baseball has somewhat of a following elsewhere in Central America. You won’t find professional leagues and baseball stadiums, 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 make baseball popular in that country (head to Sabana Park in San José of 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 at some level, no matter where you are.

Central American baseball offers a blend of passionate fans and up-and-coming leagues. Whether you’re a die-hard baseball enthusiast or simply curious about a different side of Central American culture, exploring the world of baseball in Central America is sure to be a rewarding experience.

CA Staff

CA Staff