Cuban National Series
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2023 Cuban National Series
SportBaseball
Founded1961 (63 years ago)
Organising bodyINDER
No. of teams16 (since 2012–13)
CountryCuba
Most recent
champion(s)
Las Tunas
(2023)
Most titlesIndustriales (12)
TV partner(s)Tele Rebelde (Cuba)
Cubamax TV (USA, since 2019–20 season)
Streaming partner(s)YouTube (worldwide via Game Time platform of the WBSC YouTube channel, since 2020–21)
Level on pyramid2 (since 2022)[a]
Promotion toCuban Elite League
Official websitewww.beisbolcubano.cu

The Cuban National Series (Spanish: Serie Nacional de Béisbol, SNB) is a domestic baseball competition in Cuba. Formed after the dissolution of the Cuban League in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, the National Series is a part of the Cuban baseball league system. Between 1961 and 2021, it was the top-level winter league in Cuba; it now operates as a summer league, with the top six National Series teams qualifying for the Cuban Elite League.

History

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A 2020 game between Leñadores de Las Tunas and Cocodrilos de Matanzas

The Cuban National Series was instituted in replacement of the Cuban League, which had operated since 1878, as in March 1961 the Cuban government abolished professional baseball. The Cuban League typically consisted of four teams; the Cuban National Series has played with more than four teams since its 1965–66 season, peaking at 18 teams from the late 1970s into the early 1990s.

The Cuban National Series operated as a winter league for most of its history, generally playing a regular season stretching from early August until late January. As of 2023, the regular season spans late March to early July. An all-star game is held yearly at midseason. In Havana, most of the top tier players take the field for Industriales, traditionally the strongest team in the league. Other typically strong teams include those from Santiago de Cuba Province, Pinar del Río Province and Villa Clara Province.

In March 1982, the league was marred by a gambling-related corruption scandal, which saw at least 17 players and coaches suspended and arrested.[1]

As of early 2019, baseball players in Cuba received $40 per month.[2]

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in no 2021–22 season being played.

The league serves as the first stage in the selection of players for the Cuba national baseball team for participation in international competitions and for both the World Baseball Classic and baseball at the Summer Olympics, when contested. Traditionally, the national team, known as Preseleccion, is selected from the Cuban National Series and practices in Havana. Sometimes more than one team[clarification needed] can be asked to supply players for international duty as part of the national team, from Cuban National Series teams and recently from the Cuban Elite League.

From 2016 to 2019, the league champion advanced directly to the Caribbean Series as the Cuban delegate. Representation in the Caribbean Series was transferred to the Cuban Elite League, which plays a winter schedule, following its 2022–23 premiere season.

League structure

1961–1977

From 1961–62, the inaugural season, through 1976–77, league size increased from just four charter teams to 14 teams, while the length of schedule grew from 27 to 99 games, but then reduced to 39 per team. Champions were decided based on end-of-season standings with no postseason, comparable to the National League and American League of Major League Baseball before 1969. In the event of a tie at the end of the season, a best-of-three tiebreaker series was played.

Season League size Games Notes
1961–62 4 27 Charter teams: Azucareros, Habana, Occidentales, Oriente
1962–63 4 30 Habana renamed as Industriales
1963–64 4 36 Oriente renamed as Orientales
1964–65 4 39 Azucareros replaced by Granjeros
1965–66 6 65 New teams: Centrales, Henequeneros
1966–67 6 65 Henequeneros replaced by Las Villas
1967–68 12 99 Orientales renamed as Oriente
Left league: Occidentales, Centrales
New teams: Azucareros, Camagüey, Habana, Henequeneros, Matanzas, Mineros, Vegueros, Pinar del Río
1968–69 12 99  
1969–70 12 66  
1970–71 12 66  
1971–72 12 66  
1972–73 14 78 New teams: Constructores, Serranos
1973–74 14 78  
1974–75 14 39 Left league: Camagüey, Habana, Industriales, Las Villas, Matanzas, Oriente, Pinar del Río
New teams: Agricultores, Arroceros, Cafetaleros, Citricultores, Forestales, Ganaderos, Metropolitanos
1975–76 14 39  
1976–77 14 39  

Source:[3]

1977–1992

The 1977–78 season followed the nation's administrative restructuring of the provinces of Cuba, announced in December 1976,[4] resulting in changes to multiple teams within the league. Through the 1991–92 season, the league had 18 teams, as 11 provinces fielded a single team each, three provinces fielded two teams each, and the special administrative area of Isla de la Juventud (originally named Isla de Pinos) fielded a team. Also, aluminum bats similar to those used in American college baseball debuted, and use of the designated hitter was initiated.[citation needed]

In 1983–84, the league divided into divisions for the first time, with the league split into an upper-half "first division" and lower-half "second division" at the mid-point of the regular season. Division champions were based on end-of-season standings with no postseason. This format was only used for two seasons. In 1985–86, the league created Eastern and Western divisions, each with nine teams, and had the top two teams of each division advance to postseason play. The postseason first consisted of a round-robin tournament, with each team playing the other three teams twice each—this was used through the 1988–89 season. In 1989–90 (only), the two division winners faced off in a best-of-seven series to determine a league champion, while the two division runners-up met in a best-of-five series to determine third place. In 1990–91, the postseason format was changed to a bracket tournament, with two semifinal series (each best-of-three) followed by a final series (best-of-seven). In 1991–92, the semifinals were changed to best-of-five to match the MLB's Divisional Series format.

Season League size Games Notes
1977–78 18 51 No postseason
1978–79 18 51
1979–80 18 51
1980–81 18 51
1981–82 18 51
1982–83 18 51
1983–84 18 75 Split into two divisions at midseason; no postseason
1984–85 18 75
1985–86 18 48 Two divisions; four-team round-robin postseason
1986–87 18 48
1987–88 18 48
1988–89 18 48
1989–90 18 48 Two divisions; division winners meet in title series
1990–91 18 48 Two divisions; four-team bracket tournament
1991–92 18 48

1992–2021

In 1992–93, league size reduced from 18 to 16 teams, as Pinar del Río Province and Matanzas Province, each of which had been fielding two teams each, began fielding a single team each. The 16 teams were divided into four groups (divisions) with the top team from each group advancing to postseason play. The postseason consisted of best-of-seven semifinal series followed by a best-of-seven final series.

In 1997–98, the postseason was expanded to eight teams, as division winners plus the next four teams with the best winning percentage advanced to the postseason. A quarterfinal stage was added, contested as best-of-five series.

In 2008–2009, the league was reorganized into two eight-team divisions, East and West, with the top four teams from each division qualifying for the postseason, and all playoff series contested as best-of-seven.

In 2011–2012, there were 17 competing teams, as the then-La Habana Province was split into Artemisa Province and Mayabeque Province. Thus, the West division had nine teams, including the two new clubs. The league returned to 16 teams beginning with the 2012–13 season when the Metropolitanos (long seen as a farm club of the powerhouse Industriales) were disbanded after nearly four decades of play.

In 2012–13, the zone qualification format was dropped in favor of a phase qualification system. All teams played 45 games in a "classification phase". The top eight ranked teams from this phase moved on to the "qualification phase" to determine playoff participants. In 2016–17, the number of teams in the qualification phase was dropped to six. In 2020–21, the phase format was removed from the league, and the league determined qualifiers based on a single table of standings, with the top teams at the end of the regular season advancing to the postseason, thereby ending divisional play.

To accommodate the 2013 World Baseball Classic, contested in March, the league took a six-week break after the all-star game of February 3. The league played a shortened 45-game season, with all 16 teams competing in a single table format (doing away with the regular two division format). The bottom eight seeded teams then played amongst themselves in the consolation round, while the top eight did the same for the championship. In 2014, the consolation round format for the midseason was officially adopted, effectively making it a de facto wild card game with the winners having a chance to make it to the postseason.

2022–present

After no games were played for a year following the end of the 2020–21 season in January 2021, play resumed with a 75-game schedule, all contested within a single calendar year for the first time, as the 2022 season spanned January to June. The change to a summer league schedule was made official, and starting with the 2023 season, the league runs from March to July with a schedule of 75 games per team in the regular season, followed by three playoff rounds culminating in a championship. The Cuban Elite League was initiated to maintain active competition during the winter months.

Current teams

Team Nickname Abbr. Location Founded Stadium Capacity Ref.
Artemisa Cazadores (Hunters) ART Artemisa 2011 Estadio 26 de Julio 6,000 [5]
Camagüey Toros (Bulls) CMG Camagüey 1977 Estadio Cándido González 14,000 [6]
Ciego de Ávila Tigres (Tigers) CAV Ciego de Ávila 1977 José Ramón Cepero Stadium 13,000 [7]
Cienfuegos Elefantes (Elephants) CFG Cienfuegos 1977 Cinco de Septiembre Stadium 15,600 [8]
Granma Alazanes (Sorrels) GRA Bayamo 1977 Mártires de Barbados Stadium 10,000 [9]
Guantánamo Indios (Indians) GTM Guantánamo 1977 Nguyen Van Troi Stadium 14,000 [10]
Holguín Cachorros (Dogs) HOL Holguín 1977 Calixto García Íñiguez Stadium 30,000 [11]
Industriales Leones (Lions) IND Havana 1961 Estadio Latinoamericano 55,000 [12]
Isla de la Juventud Piratas (Pirates) IJV Nueva Gerona 1977 Estadio Cristóbal Labra 5,000 [13]
Las Tunas Leñadores (Lumberjacks) LTU Las Tunas 1977 Estadio Julio Antonio Mella 13,000 [14]
Matanzas Cocodrilos (Crocodiles) MTZ Matanzas 1992 Victoria de Girón Stadium 22,000 [15]
Mayabeque Huracanes (Hurricanes) MAY San José de las Lajas 2011 Estadio Nelson Fernández 8,000 [16]
Pinar del Río Vegueros (Growers) PRI Pinar del Río 1992 Estadio Capitán San Luis 8,000 [17]
Sancti Spíritus Gallos (Roosters) SSP Sancti Spíritus 1977 José Antonio Huelga Stadium 13,000 [18]
Santiago de Cuba Avispas (Wasps) SCU Santiago de Cuba 1977 Estadio Guillermón Moncada 25,000 [19]
Villa Clara Naranjas (Oranges) VCL Santa Clara 1961 Estadio Augusto César Sandino 18,000 [20]

Source:[21]

National Series champions

See also: List of Cuban baseball champions

Before the 1985–86 season, champions were decided by final regular-season standings. The 1962–63 and 1971–72 seasons saw two teams finish tied for first, so three-game tie-breaker series were played to determine a champion.

A postseason was first played in January 1986, contested by four teams. Initially staged as a round-robin tournament, it changed to a bracket tournament in January 1990. In January 1998, the postseason was expanded to eight teams.

Instances where a team has won the championship more than once are numbered in parentheses. In seasons that spanned two calendar years, the "Year" column is when the season ended.

Series Year Winning team Manager
1 1962 Occidentales Fermín Guerra
2 1963 Industriales Ramón Carneado
3 1964 Industriales (2) Ramón Carneado
4 1965 Industriales (3) Ramón Carneado
5 1966 Industriales (4) Ramón Carneado
6 1967 Orientales Roberto Ledo
7 1968 Habana Juan Gómez
8 1969 Villa Clara Servio Borges
9 1970 Henequeneros Miguel A. Domínguez
10 1971 Villa Clara (2) Servio Borges
11 1972 Villa Clara (3) Pedro P. Delgado
12 1973 Industriales (5) Pedro Chávez
13 1974 Habana (2) Jorge Trigoura
14 1975 Agricultores Orlando Leroux
15 1976 Ganaderos Carlos Gómez
16 1977 Citricultores Juan Bregio
17 1978 Vegueros José M. Pineda
18 1979 Sancti Spíritus Cándido Andrade
19 1980 Santiago de Cuba Manuel Miyar
20 1981 Vegueros (2) José M. Pineda
21 1982 Vegueros (3) Jorge Fuentes
22 1983 Villa Clara (4) Eduardo Martín
23 1984 Citricultores (2) Tomás Soto
24 1985 Vegueros (4) Jorge Fuentes
25 1986 Industriales (6) Pedro Chávez
26 1987 Vegueros (5) Jorge Fuentes
27 1988 Vegueros (6) Jorge Fuentes
28 1989 Santiago de Cuba (2) Higinio Vélez
29 1990 Henequeneros (2) Gerardo Junco
30 1991 Henequeneros (3) Gerardo Junco
31 1992 Industriales (7) Jorge Trigoura
32 1993 Villa Clara (5) Pedro Jova
33 1994 Villa Clara (6) Pedro Jova
34 1995 Villa Clara (7) Pedro Jova
35 1996 Industriales (8) Pedro Medina
36 1997 Pinar del Río Jorge Fuentes
37 1998 Pinar del Río (2) Alfonso Urquiola
38 1999 Santiago de Cuba (3) Higinio Vélez
39 2000 Santiago de Cuba (4) Higinio Vélez
40 2001 Santiago de Cuba (5) Higinio Vélez
41 2002 Holguín Héctor Hernández
42 2003 Industriales (9) Rey Vicente Anglada
43 2004 Industriales (10) Rey Vicente Anglada
44 2005 Santiago de Cuba (6) Antonio Pacheco
45 2006 Industriales (11) Rey Vicente Anglada
46 2007 Santiago de Cuba (7) Antonio Pacheco
47 2008 Santiago de Cuba (8) Antonio Pacheco
48 2009 La Habana Esteban Lombillo
49 2010 Industriales (12) Germán Mesa
50 2011 Pinar del Río (3) Alfonso Urquiola
51 2012 Ciego de Ávila Roger Machado
52 2013 Villa Clara (8) Ramón Moré
53 2014 Pinar del Río (4) Alfonso Urquiola
54 2015 Ciego de Ávila (2) Roger Machado
55 2016 Ciego de Ávila (3) Roger Machado
56 2017 Granma Carlos Martí
57 2018 Granma (2) Carlos Martí
58 2019 Las Tunas Pablo Civil
59 2020 Matanzas Armando Ferrer Ruiz
60 2021 Granma (3) Carlos Martí
61 2022 Granma (4)
62 2023 Las Tunas (2)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The National Series was the top level of Cuban baseball from 1961 to 2021, before being supplanted by the Cuban Elite League

References

  1. ^ Anderson, Dave (March 28, 1982). "Cuba Faces Own Baseball Scandal". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The New York Times. p. 3F. Retrieved September 2, 2023 – via newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Augustin, Ed (January 2, 2019). "Can Cuban baseball still be great when many of its stars have left?". The Telegraph. Macon, Georgia. The New York Times. p. B9. Retrieved August 28, 2023 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Las 40 primeras Series Nacionales". Granma (in Spanish). Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  4. ^ Goodsell, James Nelson (December 12, 1976). "Cuba's citizens to have a say". The Columbian. Vancouver, Washington. The Christian Science Monitor. p. 47. Retrieved September 2, 2023 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Artemisa". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Camagüey". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Ciego de Ávila". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Cienfuegos". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Granma". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Guantánamo". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Holguín". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Industriales". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Isla de la Juventud". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Las Tunas". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Matanzas". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Mayabeque". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Pinar del Río". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Sancti Spíritus". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Sancti Spíritus". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Villa Clara". Cuban National Series Official Website (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  21. ^ Reglamento (LXII Serie Nacional) (PDF) (in Spanish). La Comisión Nacional de Béisbol. 2023. pp. 3–4. Retrieved August 31, 2023 – via beisbolcubano.cu.

Further reading