5 Countries Where Baseball Is Most Popular, Outside the United States
Baseball might be “America’s Pastime,” but unlike football America’s most popular sport it has been been exported and grown in so many other countries around the world. It’s fitting, then, that the series that determines the champion of Major League Baseball is called “The World Series,” because it almost always features a mix of players from many different countries all over the world.
Top Five countries Non USA where baseball is a hit:
Cuba – They don’t just love Cigars and Mojito’s here. Not many people realize that baseball first gained its foothold in the Caribbean because of its popularity in Cuba, and then spread to other nations — like the ones mentioned on this list from there. Despite its American origin, baseball is strongly associated with Cuban nationalism, as it effectively replaced colonial Spanish sports such as bullfighting. Guys like José Abreu, Yoenis Céspedes, and Aroldis Chapman are all of Cuban descent.
Venezuela – It’s estimated that over 350 Venezuelans have played in Major League Baseball since 1939, and there are as many as 70 players from the South American nation in the majors today. While the list is a who’s who of great baseball players, that list is headlined by José Altuve, the presumptive AL MVP award winner for 2017. Many Latin American players spend their offseasons playing in one of Venezuela’s professional baseball leagues.
Puerto Rico – Baseball is the most popular sport in Puerto Rico. In terms of spectators and active participants, it is the premier sport on the island. The game was introduced to the island in the late 19th century and the first two baseball clubs were founded in 1897. As of 2016, over 100 Major League Baseball players were active in the Puerto Rico Baseball League, in addition to the many hundreds who participated in the past. Some of the most famous baseball players from Puerto Rico include Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar and Iván Rodríguez.
Japan – Other than sake and sushi the Japanese love their baseball. According to Japan’s National Tourism Organization, baseball is so popular in Japan that many fans are surprised to hear that Americans also consider it their “national sport.” Not many people realize that baseball was introduced in Japan almost one-and-a-half centuries ago (in 1872), and is currently among the country’s most popular participatory and spectator sports. Japan’s professional league, known as Nippon Professional Baseball, consists of two leagues of 6 teams each. That’s where guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, and Hideki Matsui first got their starts.
Dominican Republic – Baseball players in the Dominican Republic are like musicians or, more recently, sprinters in nearby Jamaica: so much talent for such a tiny island. Juan Marichal, David Ortiz, Robinson Canó, Sammy Sosa and Albert Pujols all hail from the tiny island nation. While Major League scouts watch very closely to look for the next star from the Dominican Republic, all 30 Major League Baseball clubs run their own academies on the island, attesting to the talent of so many of the natives playing there.