Baseball has a tradition in Mexico that dates to the 19th century, though many outsiders didn't associate the game with the country until a team from Monterrey won the Little League World Series in 1957. Professional players play in the Mexican Leagues, which originated in 1925. The country has also developed hundreds of Major League players.
Historians trace the origin of baseball in Mexico as far back as the 1840's, though there is no definitive date for the sport's arrival in the country. Most commonly, it is believed Mexicans began playing baseball in the 1870's, after soldiers from the United States introduced the game to Mexicans.
Little League World Series
A 12-year-old pitcher named Angel Macias put Mexico's baseball tradition on the map by hurling a perfect game in the championship game of the 1957 Little League World Series. United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower invited the Monterrey Little League team--known as the "Little Giants"--to the White House, and Major League Baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers hosted the kids at Ebbets Field.
The capital city of Nevo Leon is also considered the epicenter of Mexico's baseball tradition. Monterrey is home to the country's baseball Hall of Fame, as well as La Academia de la Liga Mexicana, an academy funded by all 16 Mexican League teams that trains 100 prospects annually.
The country's professional league was founded in 1925 by sportswriter Alejandro Aguilar Reyes "Fray Nano" and manager Ernesto Carmona. Up until 1940, the six teams in the Mexican Leagues played games mostly in Mexico City with players imported from Cuba. Beginning in the 1940's, teams from Mexican Leagues began attracting players from the Negro Leagues and Major Leagues in the United States. The Mexican Leagues expanded to as many as 20 teams in 1979, though financial troubles eventually reduced the number to 16 teams. Today, the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol operates as a summer league for minor league baseball. It is the only Minor League--anctioned league operating outside of the United States.
Mexican National Baseball Team
With a roster comprised of 30 players, the Mexican National baseball team participates in International competition. The team finished 3-3 in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and 2-4 in the 2009 WBC. It has won Bronze Medals at the Pan-Am Games, most recently in 2007. San Diego Padres All Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is among the Major League players on its roster.
More than 100 players from the Mexican Leagues have gone on to crack Major League rosters, starting with Baldomero Almada, who debuted with the Boston Red Sox in 1933. Currently, nearly 100 Mexican Nationals are playing within the systems of Major League organizations.
- Photo Credit UPI, Little League, Associated Press
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