A Brief History of Baseball and the Dominican Republic
Long before David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez were shattering batting and pitching records, or baseball greats like the Alou brothers and Manny Mota were becoming iconic baseball figures, the Dominican Republic was already introducing a distinctive brand of baseball to the world. The Dominican Republic has a long baseball history, which has only become richer in recent years.
For over 100 years, baseball has been at the center of cultural life in the Dominican Republic. Though the origins of baseball in the Dominican aren’t exactly known, historians suggest that baseball first came to the island around the 1880s. Though it is a historical misconception that American Marines brought the game to the island during the 1916 invasion, the United States did play an integral, though indirect, role in bringing baseball here. The United States brought the game of baseball to Cuba in the mid-1860s. It is said that it was Cuban immigrants, fleeing their country’s ten-year war, who spread the game throughout the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic. The first baseball teams on the island were formed either in the year 1894 or 1895.
Eventually four teams were formed, becoming the oldest, and founding organizations of baseball in the country. Los Tigres del Licey (The Tigers) was founded in Santo Domingo (in order to compete with Club Ozama y Club Nuevo) in 1907. Over the next 15 years Licey became so dominant that an agreement was made among the three other competing teams (Los Muchachos, San Carlos, and Delco Light) to form a new team, comprised of their best players, in order to beat Licey. That team was Los Leones del Escogido. Las Estrellas Orientales (Eastern Stars) was founded in San Pedro in the year 1911. And later, as mentioned, in 1921, Los Leones del Escogido (Lions of the Chosen One) was founded in Santo Domingo. Sandino, who would become one of the more dominant teams in the league, was founded in 1921, (Sandino was later renamed Las Aguilas Cibaenas, (The Eagles, in 1936).
After its introduction in the late 1880s the sport’s popularity quickly spread, and by the 1920s and 30s teams from the Dominican Republic were playing other Caribbean nations, as well as teams from North America.
As with everything on the island, Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who became president of the Republic in 1930, through military action, ultimately controlled all of Dominican baseball. Trujillo oversaw the modernization of the Dominican Republic, and undertook the modernization of baseball as one of these tasks. He built the first major baseball stadium, and provided an avenue for the sport to become the country’s national pastime. With the help of the dictator, and his support of the game, this era became crucial in providing the economic and political foundation for the sport. The inception of the official baseball league, and the eventual completion of “El Estadio Trujillo” (later renamed Estadio Quisqueya), were landmark events, as they cemented the place of baseball in the Dominican cultural lexicon. During the first phase in the evolution of the country’s baseball history, games were played only during the day. The game’s second stage began when Estadio Quisqueya was built in 1955. The stadium was a brilliantly designed and well-built stadium for its time. With the stadium came lights, and what is considered Dominican baseball’s Golden Era.
To a further extent, players from the United States, especially the Negro Leagues, ventured down to the Caribbean, especially to the Dominican Republic, to play against some of the Caribbean’s finest, adding to the level of competition already present.
One of the most famous players to participate in the Dominican baseball circuit was Negro League great Satchel Paige. In 1937 Paige was approached by Dr. Jose Enrique Aybar, Dean of the University of Santo Domingo, deputy of the Dominican Republic’s national congress, and director of Los Dragones. (Los Dragones were the two rival teams from Santo Domingo, Licey and Escogido, who were merged to play in that year’s 1937 Dominican Baseball league). Los Dragones were a baseball team operated by Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, and Aybar hired Paige to recruit talented Negro League players to play for Trujillo. With $30,000 in hand, the Negro League legend convinced eight other Negro League players to join him for the eight-week long season, including future Negro League legends Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Leroy Matlock, Sam Bankhead, Harry Williams and Herman Andrews. Paige had a solid season, recording a league best 8-10 record, and Los Dragones finished the season in first place, with an overall record of 18-13. After Los Dragones beat San Pedro de Macoris in the championship game, (coming from a 3 games to 0 deficit), all the players, except for Paige returned to the United States, though Paige would eventually return to the States.
Having little baseball options after being banned from the Negro National League, the returning players formed Trujillo’s All-Stars, and barnstormed around the Midwest, playing in exhibition and All-Star games. Eventually Paige would continue to barnstorm around the United States, though he would never return to the island.
The 1940s and 50s continued to bring acclaim to the nation, and its baseball league. The biggest baseball moment for the Dominicans, up until that point, came in 1956. This historic event paved the way for the future migration of Dominican talent to the United States. This year saw the debut of infielder Ozzie Virgil with the New York Giants. Virgil, who played nine seasons in the Major Leagues, brought Dominican baseball into the international spotlight. He was the first Dominican baseball player to play in the Majors, and it was the eventual success of Virgil, and fellow countrymen Juan Marichal, the Alou brothers, Manny Mota and others, that consolidated the Dominican Republic as a baseball powerhouse in the hemisphere.
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With the prospect of a solid talent base so relatively close, teams from the Major Leagues quickly began to send money, players, and scouts to capitalize on the growing demand. This was another great boost for the Dominican baseball league and the country’s aspiring players, as they got to sharpen their skills with some of the world’s best talent. Players like Delmar Crandall, Grady Little, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Tommy Lasorda, Mike Piazza, Alex Rodriguez, and many others have taken advantage of the level of competition available here, and helped make the league even stronger. Since the 1960s and 70s baseball schools have set up shop in the Dominican Republic, and these days every team in Major League Baseball has a school or an active representation here.
There are currently six teams in the Dominican league. Those previously mentioned, with the addition of Los Toros and Los Azucareros. The teams begin play in October, and the season runs through February, with each team playing 60 games, and the two finalists playing for the championship title. Both finalists also go on to represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Baseball Series against Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
Of the six teams in the league there have been two great rivalries that have emerged, though this has been to the detriment of the league’s popularity in recent years. In the earlier days of baseball on the island Los Tigres and Los Leones battled continuously for the top, but in more recent years it has been Los Tigres battling with Las Aguilas. Los Tigres have won 19 Dominican titles and 9 Caribbean World Series, while Las Aguilas have won 19 championships.
To date, 420 players from the Dominican Republic have played in the Majors (1956-2005), and according to Major League Baseball there are 119 players representing Latin America, which is 24% of major leaguers. Of these 119 players, 90 players come from the Dominican Republic. There are more Dominicans playing in the Majors than from any other country in Latin America, and the Dominican Republic has more players in the Majors than all other countries in Latin America combined. Dominicans have even made strides in other aspects of the game. In 2003 Tony Pena, formerly of the Kansas City Royals, coached against Felipe Alou, of the San Francisco Giants, making it the first time that two Dominicans coached against each other in the Majors. And in 2004 Omar Minaya became the first Dominican General Manager, working the front office for the New York Mets.
Though the strength of Dominican baseball is now found in each of the Major Leagues 30 teams, baseball still remains an important part of this country’s history, and an important cultural outlet on the island. Each time the topic of baseball comes up, the names of the legends of yesteryear who helped immortalize the game are remembered and discussed as if those players were still playing today. It is an improbable suggestion that each player, or baseball event will always be remembered, but it is possible to say that this country’s baseball past will always provide the foundation for its rich baseball future.
The official story of baseball indicates that this game was invented by Abner Doubleday and introduce it in Copperstown, New York, where now is site of the baseball hall of fame, in 1839. The rules of this game was published by Alexander Cartwright in 1845. Mr. Cartwright also organized an amateur team called New York Knickerbockers that lost to to the New York Nine 23-1 in four innings in the first game that scores were taken and celebrated June 19, 1846. And this sport became known as the national pastime and was spreaded all around the world. This sport was brought to Puerto Rico by the sons and nephews of a Spanish official that had been transferred from Cuba. Here in Puerto Rico the sport was played before the Hispanic-American war. And the first official game played in the island was between Almendares y Boriquen.But the game really developed after the war, in that moment everything was in calm and people in mass started to play it. It used to be played only Sundays and on holidays. This spreaded around the island and almost all the towns had a baseball team.This sport became to be taught in school. People would write songs for their team.One of the most important team was Escuela Superior de Ponce. To play baseball from one town to another they would go in train and lot of fan would go with their team. One of the most important player was Amos Iglesia born in Brooklyn in that time. In the time of the real boom of the sport in the island the most important teams were All American, Cuban Stars, Royals Giants and Lincoln Giants. The first puertorican that receive a test for a team in major league was William Guzman but his parents would not let him go so he could finish being a lawyer. Jose “Pepe” Santana was one of the most important puertorican to play in black league in the United States due to his power hitting.
Hiram Gabriel Bithorn was the first puertorican to play in the major league. His debut was April 15, 1942 with the Chicago Cubs. In 1943 he won 18 games and a era of 2.60. After that year he went to the war and when he came back the speed that took him to the major league was gone. In total, his career in major league in 4 season he had pitched in 105 games won 34 games and lost 31 with an era of 3.16. After Bithorm the next puertorican was Luis Rodriguez Olmo who played with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he started playing in June 22, 1945. He was the first to play in a World Series.His numbers after 6 years in the major league was .281 batting average with 29 homeruns and 458 hits in 462 games. After these two the following were Luis “Canena” Marquez, Carlos Bernier, Jose “Pantalones” Santiago, Jose Enrique Montalvo, Ruben Gomez. After those a great number of puertoricans started to play in the major league. In most recent history some of the puertoricans has been worthy to be considered in a small group of great players in the history of the game. The most important player to come out of Puerto Rico was Roberto Clemente Walker from Carolina. He started playing in April 17, 1955 with the Pittsburgh Pirates but was first signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was selected in 1973, in a special voting due to his death in December 31 of 1972 why delivering help to the victim of an earthquake in Nicaragua, to become the first Latin player to be in the baseball hall of fame. What he did for the game is without end. Some of his awards were National League MVP in 1966, 1971 World Series MVP, won 4 N.L. batting titles, 12 time all-star, won 12 Gold Gloves, lead League in outfield assists 5 times, had a hit in every game of the 1960 & 1971 World Series, hit 3,000 hit on September 30, 1972, all-time pirate leader in games, at bats, hits, singles, and total bases, second baseball player to appear on a U.S. Postage Stamp (Jackie Robinson was the first). His total for 18 years in major league is 2433 games, 3000 hits, 240 homeruns, .317 batting average.
Another of great player to come from Puerto Rico is Orlando ” Peruchin” Cepeda. He enter the major league in April 15, 1958 with San Francisco Giants. A lifetime .297 hitter with 379 home runs and 1,364 RBIs during his 17-year playing career with the Giants, Cardinals, Braves, A’s, Red Sox and Royals, Cepeda hit the first Major League home run ever on the West Coast when he clubbed a homer against the Dodgers in his very first Major League game April 15, 1958. He went on to win 1958 Rookie of the Year honors, the 1966 Comeback Player of the Year award, the 1967 NL Most Valuable Player trophy and 1973 Designated Hitter of the Year laurels. He appeared in three World Series, was an 11-time All-Star and hit over .300 nine times in his career.
If we continue to talk about puertorican that had played in the major league we will not finish due that there has been hundreds of players. Some of themare the followings. In 1984 another puertorican was the top story for the major league and that was Willie Hernandez for the Detroit Tigers. In that season he had was the American League MVP and also the Cy Young winner. Another puertorican that been in front line has been Benito Santiago that in 1987 made a record of 34 consecutive games batting a least a hit for a rookie and that same year won the rookie of the year award. Now has a handful of golden glove awards. Some of the records that current players have will be told in their respective page. As you can see we have come a great way to the status we have earned as some of the top players of today baseball. Some of them you hear day to day as the following: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, Carlos Delgado, Edgar Martinez, Roberto and Santos Alomar, Juan “Igor” Gonzalez, Wilfredo Cordero, Jaime Navarro, Carlos Baerga, Bobby Bonilla, Javier Lopez, Roberto Hernandez and others.
History of Baseball in Cuba
Baseball came to Cuba in the 1860’s. Brought by Cubans who studied in the United States and American sailors in Cuban ports. It quickly spread through the island and took heart with the Cuban people who were fighting for their independence from Spain. We will follow Cuban Baseball from its social club beginnings and through its Golden age. Follow the rise of the Amateur Leagues and the resurgence of the Professional Leagues in the 1940’s. The influence of American organized ball in the 50’s and the end of professionalism in 1961. Also a look at how Baseball survives in Cuba today, with hope of a return to its splendid glory in the future.
A Tribute to Cuban Baseball
A great number of Cubans played on baseball Teams in the Professional, Semi-pro, Amateur and Sugar Mill Leagues in Cuba. Cubans have played abroad in just about all the baseball playing nations. In the United States, Cubans played proudly and with distinction in the Major Leagues, Minor Leagues, and Negro Leagues. Ballplayers like Esteban Bellán, José Méndez, Martín Dihigo, Adolfo Luque, Miguel González, Minnie Miñoso, Camilo Pascual, Tony Pérez, and Jose Contreras have had stellar careers in baseball. Several Cubans are listed among the greatest players in baseball History . Also, many of the greatest American ballplayers have played in Cuba. Americans like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige have graced the ballfields of the island nation. Many have appeared on Cuban Baseball Card sets and Collectibles. This Web Site is dedicated to all the ballplayers of Cuban Heritage, either born in Cuba or children of Cubans, and all ballplayers from other nations who have played in Cuba.
A great number of Cubans have played in the major leagues. The first was Esteban Bellan , who played in the 1870s. Then in 1911 the Cincinnati Reds brought in Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans, who were followed by a steady stream of players from the Island. Adolfo Luque became the first Latin star when he led all pitchers with an outstanding 27-8 record and a 1.93 ERA in 1923. In the 1950s Minnie Miñoso and other black Cubans helped integrate the Major Leagues. The 60s and 70s brought many players who left the now Communist country like Camilo Pascual, Luis Tiant, Tony Perezand Tony Oliva. More recently Jose Contreras and Rafael Palmeiro have reached stardom. Lately defections from Cuba by their star ballplayers has highlighted the Cuban baseball news. Cuban greats like Livan and Orlando Hernandez have risked their lives to play the highest level of baseball, which is found here in the United States.
Cubans and the Negro Leagues
A great number of Cubans played in the Negro Leagues. Men like Jose Mendez, Cristobal Torriente, Martin Dihigo and Minnie Miñoso played with distinction in Negro League squads. Cubans played in the Negro League World Series. Cubans also played in the East – West All-Star games and are listed on All Time Negro League All-Star lists. Several Cuban teams were also part of the established Negro Leagues or barnstormed as independants. Teams like the Cuban Stars and New York Cubans were made up of mostly Cuban ballplayers. Many of the greatest American Negro League ballplayers played in Cuba. Pop Lloyd, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Buck O’neil have graced the ballfields of Cuba. They made the rosters of some of best teams in Cuban baseball history. Many of the only examples of contemporary Baseball Cards of Negro League players are found in Cuban Baseball Card sets.
Mexico’s baseball roots are believed to be traced back to approximately 1847. American soldiers in the Mexican War introduced Mexicans to the game of baseball in various regions. The laying of track for the railroad, specifically the Monterrey-Tampico railway, played a large part in the spreading of baseball throughout the country, specifically northern Mexico. Colonel Joseph Robertson, who was from Tennessee and once served under General Robert E. Lee, introduced the game in Nuevo Leon when he granted his railroad workers a holiday on the fourth of July in 1889. Robertson and his workers celebrated by playing baseball.
The first organized Mexican League was formed in 1925 by Jorge Pasquel. Pasquel had major league ambitions and stocked his teams with Negro League stars. Furthermore he raided MLB players following World War II when there became a player surplus and accompanying pay cuts. Most of these defector players (23) joined the Quebec Provincial League soon after and Pasquel had to fold the league due to financial ruin in 1953. In 1955 the league resurfaced as a Class-AA minor league, then reorganized yet again in 1967 as a Class-AAA league and continues to this day as a summer league.
(Mexico’s other baseball league is the “Liga Mexicana del Pacifico” or Mexican Pacific League. It is a “high level” winter league where the winner of the league moves on to represent Mexico in the Caribbean League World Series. The winter league has a total of eight clubs that play a 68 game regular season schedule starting the second week of October and ending in December.)
The Mexican League is composed of 16 teams, divided equally among 2 divisions: the North Zone and the South Zone. The Mexican League is facing tough times as the popularity of baseball is waning in the country. Unlike other Caribbean countries such as the Dominican, Cuba, Venezuela et. al., it seems Mexicans have found a cure for the Beisbol fever that they once had and its name is Futbol.
Attendance at professional baseball games has been flat, with about 2.3 million tickets sold each year between 1998 and 2003, the latest year of data, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information Processing.
Meanwhile, soccer ticket sales rose 27 percent in the same period, to more than 4.9 million annually. As Mexicans become more affluent, they’re spending more on soccer than ever before.
Mexico City, a metropolis of 18 million people, has four pro soccer teams but only one baseball team, the Diablos Rojos (Red Devils). It plays in the Foro Sol, a stadium wedged into a corner of the Hermanos Rodriguez race car track.
A second team, the Tigers, moved to Puebla soon after the Social Security Stadium closed in 2001. Mexico’s second-biggest city, Guadalajara, doesn’t have a baseball team, but sports three top division soccer teams.
Mexican soccer jerseys can be bought on any street corner, but baseball paraphernalia is practically nonexistent. Much like Canada, Mexico’s media mostly ignore baseball.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers – a popular team among Mexicans – won the Super Bowl it dominated front pages across the country. The other big game on that Sunday, the Mazatlan Bucks’ 4-3 loss to a Venezuelan team at the Caribbean World Series, was relegated to the last pages of sports sections. (Sounds like what happens when a curling tournament is on or the Maple Leafs open training camp – doesn’t matter if the Jays are winning the World Series in Toronto)
While the Mexican Soccer Federation has cultivated its sport nationwide, baseball remains a regional game. Twenty-seven percent of the Mexican Baseball League’s 445 players come from one state, Sinaloa, with another 20 percent coming from neighbouringSonora. Another problem is that Mexicans never get to see homegrown MLB stars play except on TV.
Hopefully Mexico’s moderate success in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic will do wonders for the sport’s popularity, but one can only hope
The Liga Mexicana de Béisbol was founded in 1925 with six teams playing all their games in Mexico City. In the 1930s and 1940s, African-Americans from the United States—who were still barred from Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947–played alongside Mexicans and Cubans in the Mexican League. This arrangement benefited the African-American players through higher salaries and better conditions than in the Negro Leagues in the United States, and helped the Mexican League gain status and revenue from increasing the caliber of their ballplayers. In 1937, legendary Negro Leagues’ stars Satchel Paige and James “Cool Papa Bell” left the Pittsburgh Crawfords to play in Latin America. After playing a year in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, Paige and Bell joined the Mexican League. In 1940, Bell won the Triple Crown, hitting .437, with 12 home runs, and 79 RBIs. The next year, fellow Negro Leaguer Josh Gibson hit .374, and set Mexican League records with 33 home runs and 124 RBIs in only 103 games. His home run mark almost tripled the existing Mexican record and stood until 1960 when the Mexican League had a longer season.
In the 1940s, multi-millionaire Jorge Pasquel attempted to turn the Mexican League into a first-rate rival to the Major Leagues in the United States. In 1946, Pasquel traveled north of the border to pursue the top players in the Negro and Major Leagues. Although he was reportedly turned down by Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, Pasquel signed up close to twenty white major leaguers, including such well known names as Mickey Owen and Sal Maglie, and a number of Negro League players. Ultimately, Pasquel’s dream faded, as financial realities led to decreased salaries and his high-priced foreign stars returned home.
Currently, 16 teams divided into North and South Divisions play in the Liga Mexicana in a summer season, which ends in a 7-game championship series between the winners of the two divisions. Since 1967, the league has been sanctioned as an “AAA” minor league. In the winter, eight teams play in the Liga Mexicana de Pacifico, whose winner advances to the Caribbean Series against other Latin American winners.
In 1957, baseball in Mexico got a big boost when a little league team in Mexico won the Little League World Series in Williamsport. 12-year old Angel Macias won the championship for the Mexicans by throwing a perfect game against a team from La Mesa, California.
The El Sálon de la Fama, the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, has enshrined 167 into its Hall of Immortals, consisting of 138 Mexicans, 16 Cubans, 12 from the United States, and one Puerto Rican. Distinguished players include Major League Baseball stars Roy Campanella and Monte Irvin, who played in the Mexican League in the 1940s. Nicknamed “El Bambino Mexicano,” or the Mexican Babe Ruth, Hector Espino was inducted in the Mexican Hall of Fame in 1988, after playing with San Luis Potosi, Monterrey, and Tampico from 1962 to 1984. His 453 home runs remained the record until Nelson Barrera surpassed him in 2001. Espino still holds the all-time records in many offensive categories.
In international competition, the Mexican national team failed to advance beyond the second round of the World Baseball Classic in 2006. But its second-round 2-1 victory over the United States before a heavy pro-USA crowd of 38,284 in Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, proved to be a big highlight to Mexicans as the win prevented its bigger rival from moving on to the semi-finals. Mexican teams have won the Caribbean Series against other Latin countries six times, most recently in 2005 when Venados de Mazatlán won in its home town.
There is not an exact and recognized version about how and when the game of Baseball was introduced to Venezuelans. What is accepted by most historians is that some Venezuelan students in American universities, began to practice the new sport when they went back home after finishing their studies and started to teach the game to their friends among the social high-class clubs in Caracas, around the early years of the 1890 decade.
By May 1895, Amenodoro Franklin and his brothers Emilio, Gustavo, and Augusto established the first organized Baseball Club, “Caracas BBC”. They had been gathering people for the last 3 months to practice the game every Sunday.
The youngsters were concerned in those days in spreading the fever of the new game in the city, they practiced in an open land in front of the train station in Quebrada Honda, further, the field was named “Caracas Baseball Club Exercise Field”.
Caracas BBC organized the first official game in Venezuela as a big event to gain publicity. On May 22, 1895, they sent an open invitation and placed an ad in “El Tiempo”, a local newspaper. The game was so new and unrecognized that the reporter invited the people thru the ad to a “new kind of Chess game, the Base Bale”.
The next day at 3:30 p.m., jumped out on the field the two teams of Caracas BBC, “The Red” and “The Blue”, the latter, managed by Amenodoro Franklin, won with a score of 28 to 19. Some of the players were the Franklin brothers, Emilio, Gustavo and Augusto, Adolfo Inchausti, Alfredo Mosquera, the Todd Brothers, Jaime and Roberto and Mariano Becerra. All of them, former students in the United States, are considered the pioneers of the game in Venezuela. Among the other players involved were the Gonzalez Brothers, Manuel and Joaquin and Emilio Gramer, they were Cubans living in Caracas.
“El Tiempo” did not know much about baseball after the first game; even many people believed that they were going to watch a chess game, because of the reporter’s mistake. A note appeared on the paper the next day describing more the environment than the game itself: “…it looked like a carnival Sunday, without disguises or flowers or candies or reddish things. The delight of the people was so high that it was not even one complain about the poverty on the Republic was heard during the afternoon. And as in other times, people had fun, at least the part of the population who has more elements to do it.”
Venezuela, filled with internal revolutions all over the country, was leaded by rural or military leaders, who tried to take control of the government. By 1895, General Joaquin Crespo was the president and the country was impoverished after many years of civil war.
“El Pregonero”, another newspaper also covered the game, and in their note about it, they mocked El Tiempo’s Chess Ad: “You see! El Tiempo? the match was a Ball Game, not Bale. El Tiempo is always wrong”. They also published: “But this game of Base Ball provides health and strength to the body and happiness to the spirit.”
Three months later, on August 15, “El Cojo Ilustrado” a kind of magazine, published the first pictures of Base Ball in the country sent by Mariano Becerra.
Days later, everybody was talking around the city about “the new sport”, and Alfredo Mosquera’s father, the owner of Caracas Beer Co., built the first official stadium in the country with stands and official measures according to the American rules. It was the “Stand del Este”, near the Petare train station, a Caracas suburb.
The history of Baseball in Panama:
In Panama, baseball’s heritage dates back to the late 19th Century with the arrival of North Americans working to construct the Panama Canal. This is the time when baseball became a popular sport in Panama. The growth of baseball in Panama brought about the development of Panamanian players in Major League Baseball. The most famous player being Rod Carew, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.