The semi-finals of this year’s Caribbean Series are tonight, with the final being played tomorrow. The Caribbean Series, or Serie del Caribe, is held each year in early February. Participants are the national champions of the member leagues of the Confederación de Béisbol del Caribe, the organization that governs winter leagues in the Caribbean. Its current members are: Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional, Serie Nacional de Béisbol, Béisbol Profesional de Panamá, Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, and Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional, representing Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, the Domincan Republic, and Colombia, respectively.
The first Caribbean Series was held February 20-25 in 1949. The participating teams were: Alacranes del Almendares of Cuba, Spur Cola Colonites of Panama, Indios de Mayagüez of Puerto Rico, and Cervecería Caracas of Venzuela. The Series was played at Estadio del Cerro in Havana, Cuba (now known as Estadio Latinoamericano).
The Cuban team dominated in that series, winning all six of the games they played. Here’s how their games went:
- Feb. 20, 1949: Cuba scored 16 runs to Venzuela’s 1 run. Connie Marrero was the winning pitcher. Home runs: 1 by Dalmiro Finol for Venezuela.
- Feb. 21, 1949: Cuba 8, Puerto Rico 5. Winning pitcher: Agapito Mayor
- Feb. 22, 1949: Cuba 4, Panama 0. Winning pitcher: Ed Wright
- Feb. 23, 1949: Cuba 6, Venezuela 3. Winning pitcher: Rene Solis
- Feb. 24, 1949: Cuba 11, Puerto Rico 4. Winning pitcher: Agapito Mayor. Home runs: 1 by Monte Irvin for Cuba.
- Feb. 25, 1949: Cuba 5, Panama 2. Winning pitcher: Agapito Mayor. Home runs: 2 for Cuba, hit by Monte Irvin and Hector Rodriguez.
Venezuela came in second in that first Serie, winning 3 games and losing 3; Chico Carrasquel hit a home run for Venezuela in the 2nd place game on February 25th. Panama finished third and Puerto Rico was in fourth place. Notably, the Puerto Rico team included Negro Leaguers such as Quincy Trouppe, Luke Easter, and Wilmer Fields.
The Caribbean Series was played from 1959 to 1960, but was cancelled in 1961 after professional baseball was dissolved in Cuba in the wake of the revolution. The Series was revived in 1970 and has been played every year since, with the exception of 1981, when there was a player’s strike in the Venezuelan League. Cuba did not participate between 1961 and 2014, but returned in 2014. However, they are not participating in this year’s competition due to visa issues. Panama did not participate between 1961 and 2018, returning only in 2019.
Stay tuned for more Caribbean Series stats coming this Stat-urday!