Baseball is an extremely popular sport, and one that brings together people from different ages and generations. From watching a baseball movie that never quite left you, to witnessing your dad or granddad coach a little league team – so many of us have so many special memories related to baseball. It is a sport that is almost two centuries old, and was a major morale booster and an emotional escape during the civil war.
Unsurprisingly, then, it was during the war period (1861-1865) that the popularity of baseball skyrocketed. Today, the USA is unarguably the home of baseball. However, to say that baseball is solely an American sport would not be right, since the sport has die-hard fans in many different parts of the world.
So, in this blog, we will discuss the countries where baseball is most popular.
7 Countries Where Baseball is Most Popular:
1) The United States of America:
There is no doubt that baseball is the most loved and popular sport throughout the USA. The country is home to the renowned MLB (Major League Baseball) as well as to a number of other professional, semi-professional, and amateur baseball leagues.
According to the National Sporting Goods Association, more than 26 million US residents are regular baseball players. In addition, a large percentage of colleges in the country have their own baseball teams, which is another indication of the popularity of the sport in the country.
2) Dominican Republic:
This is a sovereign state occupying two-thirds of the Hispaniola Island in the Greater Antilles – an archipelago situated in the Caribbean. The country has a tremendous baseball following.
It was the Cuban settlers who introduced baseball to the Dominican Republic. Once the Second World War came to its end, the country decided to establish its own professional baseball league. The Dominican Professional Baseball League was officially initiated in 1951, and consists of six teams. It is also the most powerful and followed sports league in the country. Alongside competing in championships, the Dominican Republic baseball team also participates in global tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic and, of course, the Baseball World Cup.
The Dominican Republic regularly participates in the Caribbean League which comprises teams from the Latin American region. Another interesting fact is that the percentage of Dominican-origin baseball players in the MLB is extremely high.
Learning that it was the Cubans who brought baseball to the Dominican might have come as a bit of surprise to you. However, the truth is that Cuba boasts a rich baseball history. The Cuban professional baseball league has the distinction of being the first league that was formed in a country other than the USA. Cuba can thank Nemesio Gulliot for acquainting the country with baseball. Gulliot not only brought the first ball and bat to the Cube, but also conducted the very first Cuban baseball championship. By 1899, Cuban baseball had gone international, and the Cuban team had started playing teams from other countries. Cuba also had a few amateur baseball leagues during the 20th century. Recently, the Cuban national baseball team tried qualifying for the Olympics games, but missed out.
Mexico is a North American federal republic, and is officially known as the United Mexican States. Baseball is extremely popular in Mexico, and the country has produced some great players of the game, including Roberto Avila, Nomar Garciaparra, Fernando Valenzuela, and Vinicio Castilla.
The Mexican baseball league started in 1925, and had just six teams at the time. Today, a total of 16 teams participate in the league, which is a clear testament to the growing popularity of baseball in Mexico.
A list of countries where baseball is most popular would feel rather incomplete without England – the country that actually invented the game. Documents from the 19th century mention both baseball and rounder. However, in 1892, the British and Welsh sports Associations declared baseball a separate sport.
American teams had a lot of influence on the British brand of baseball, since these teams traveled to Britain towards the end of the 19th century. For this reason, initially, British and American baseball had a lot of similarities – similarities that faded away with time. Towards the end of the 20th century, British baseball experienced a sharp decline in popularity. These days, the Welsh Baseball Union is working hard to introduce (or, rather, re-introduce) this sport to school kids, and these labors are yielding some positive results.
6) South Korea:
South Korea is situated in East Asia, towards the south of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea has a large number of baseball fans and lovers.
During the 19th century, American missionaries introduced Koreans to the game of baseball. However, baseball only started becoming popular in the country after the end of the Korean War. Owing to this increase in popularity, the Korean government decided to establish the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) in 1982, so that fans could enjoy local baseball games. You might have heard about the Kia Tigers, the Korean baseball team that won a national championship with a record of 11-0.
Initially, the KBO had six franchise teams representing different South Korean cities. Today, the KBO boasts a total of ten teams. Baseball is a matter of immense pride among South Koreans, and it can even be argued that South Korean baseball is more fiery and exciting than American baseball. A number of Korean players represent MLB teams, including Jung-ho Kang, Byung-Hyun, and Chan Ho Park.
Canada not only shares its borders with the United States, but also the love for baseball. Baseball viewership in Canada has steadily increased over the last few decades.
Alongside the MLB, Canada has a number of amateur and semi-professional leagues and teams. It would not be wrong to say that, just like America, Canada too, loves no sport as much as it loves baseball.
Our Final Thoughts:
To sum up, the thrill, skill, and excitement involved in baseball has made it a tremendously loved sport throughout the world. The popularity of baseball has consistently gone up in the last few years and decades – a trend that is showing no signs of decline.