Baseball Taking Center Stage Over Futbol In Colombia
I have been truly fascinated with the Idea of baseball growing in Colombia.
A little history as to why I feel that way.
I was born to a Puerto Rican family in New York, which would make me a Nuyorican. In 1991, while hanging out with a few buddies, I stumbled upon this beautiful girl who was working at the local McDonalds. I could not believe my eyes on the beauty that bestowed me. After getting the courage to get her number through my cousin, we started a journey of dating which eventually led to me meeting her family.
In the early ’80s, her family emigrated from Colombia and started a life in Queens, NY. From what I remember, soccer or how its called outside of the United States, Futbol, was always on the TV set when I visited their home. It was even a celebration when Team Colombia played in the World Cups or just a friendly match, it was a like a National Holiday. I understood the love for a sport, but didn’t realize how much it meant to them. It was pure pride to see their fellow countrymen compete in their nations Red, Yellow and Blue uniforms.
As the years passed by, their family grew and the boys in the family, even though they competed on the soccer fields in Queens, they found a love of baseball. If you ask the boys why, it was because of my love for the game and the Mets.
The one thing I could not do was to have the family sit down and watch a baseball game, they just had no connection to it and said the game was too slow. Well I guess you can’t compare to a sport where the players are nearly running back and forth for nearly 90 minutes. That to me seemed exhausting.
When it comes to baseball in Colombia, they competed in the sport on the World Stage dating back to their first appearance in the 1944 World Cup. In 1945, they were runners-up to Team Venezuela and then in 1947, Colombia won their first ever World Cup. They would go on to win again in 1965 and runners up in 1971, with the team made up of mostly amateur and Minor League ball players.
Team Colombia also competed in the Pan American games, which, as stated by Wikipedia, had long been considered one of the premier international baseball events in the world, even higher then the Olympics. Team Colombia appeared in 1951, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 2015 and 2019, but only medaled in 1971 (Bronze).
In 2020, Team Colombia joined the Caribbean series, a tournament that showcases the best teams that win their respective winter leagues and then represent their countries and then compete against each other to see who is the best in the Caribbean. In 2022, Colombia beat the Dominican Republic for their first ever Caribbean Series Title.
Fast forward to what has become one of the largest world baseball stages since its inception in 2006, the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
The WBC pins the best of the best in the world of baseball, all competing with their native countries. It follows the path of the Olympics, with the tournament only being played every four years. Last was in 2017, but because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, it was delayed until 2023.
Colombia made their first appearance in 2017 and finished 1-2. Their only victory came against Team Canada, with a 4-1 score.
Now here we are in 2023, with the WBC about to take flight in less than a month. Colombia is back and will be placed in Pool C, with the United States, Mexico, Canada, and first timer Great Britain.
Colombia will have a tough task to win their pool with the power teams like the US and Mexico, but Colombia has grown in the baseball world has become a tough opponent in recent years.
And in the home front, now many other Colombian families will be wearing their Red, Yellow and Blue gear as they root on their national baseball team. I am sure I will be able to get my wife’s family to follow suit. Only took me about 30 years, but well worth the wait.
One interesting matchup would be Team Puerto Rico v Team Colombia, that would be a huge party in my home. And a site to see!