Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

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Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
Lvbp.jpg
Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional
Sport Baseball
Founded 1945
No. of teams 8
Country Venezuela
Continent South America
Most recent champion(s) Navegantes del Magallanes (12th title)
Most titles Leones del Caracas (20 titles)
Official website lvbp.com

The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League or Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) is the highest level baseball league in Venezuela.

Brief history[edit]

Baseball exploded in Venezuela in 1941, following the world championship in Havana.

On December 27, 1945, the owners of the Caracas Brewery (Cervecería Caracas, present day Caracas Lions or Leones del Caracas), Vargas Wisemen (Sabios de Vargas), the Magellan Navigators (Navegantes del Magallanes), and Venezuela BBC created the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. The league was formally registered as an institution during January 1946, and in the same month organized its first tournament, starting on January 3, 1946.

Vargas Wisemen, led by Daniel "Chino" Canónico, became the first champion, with a record of 18 wins and 12 loses.

During the first tournaments, games were played on Thursdays and Saturdays on the afternoons, and Sundays in the morning. This was the norm until Cervecería Caracas' park - located in the San Agustín del Norte zone of Caracas - was fitted with electric lights, enabling its use during nights. Thus, a game was added on Tuesday nights.

Eventually, the tournament was changed to accommodate two rounds, with the top team of each round having a best-of-5 play-off to determine the champion.

On August 8, 1952, Pablo Morales and Oscar Prieto Ortiz purchase the Cervecería Caracas team from Martín Tovar Lange, who had previously purchased the team form its previous owners, Caracas Brewery Co. The new owners renamed the team (reigning champions by that time) as Caracas Lions (Leones del Caracas), after the full name of the city, Santiago de Leon de Caracas. On October 17, 1952, the 1952-1953 tournament started, with the first game of Leones del Caracas vs. Venezuela BBC. Leones del Caracas would win their inaugural tournament.

The next tournament would see the departure of the teams Sabios de Vargas and Venezuela BBC due to economic problems, being replaced by two teams (Gavilanes and Pastora) from the professional league of the Zulia State, from western Venezuela.

In 1955 a new team was added in the place of the departed Vargas, named Pampero; while the Venezuela BBC was moved out of Caracas, and renamed the Valencia Industrymen (Industriales de Valencia)

The 1956-1957 tournament would see further changes: the Navegantes del Magallanes team was purchased by advertisers Joe Novas and Joe Cruz and renamed as Oriente, leaving the league made of: Leones del Caracas, Oriente, Pampero, Industriales de Valencia.

In 1962, the La Guaira Sharks (Tiburones de La Guaira) are brought into the league to replace Pampero.

In 1965, the league added two more teams, the Lara Cardinals (Cardenales de Lara) and the Aragua Tigers (Tigres de Aragua).

For the 1968-1969 tournament, the Industrymen left the city of Valencia and relocated to Acarigua as a new team: Los Llaneros. This left Valencia without a team, prompting the move of Navegantes del Magallanes from Caracas to Valencia, and their return to their original name for the 1969-1970 tournament.

In 1969, the Zulia Eagles (Águilas del Zulia) are brought into the league to replace the Valencia Industrymen (Industriales de Valencia); the original Venezuela team.

The 70s saw the first successes for Venezuelan teams outside of Venezuela since the amateur championships of the 1940s, with the Navegantes del Magallanes winning two Caribbean Series. It also saw problems for the league, in the form of the strike that prevented the 1973-1974 tournament; or the problems the Caracas Lions and La Guaira Sharks had in 1975-1976 to secure a baseball park to play their home games, which resulted in both teams merged into one, and forced to move to the city of Acarigua.

The 80s saw the Caracas Lions winning 5 tournaments, consolidating their lead as the most successful team in the league. The Lions also went on to win 3 championships in a row in 1982, and their first Caribbean Series. Also in the 80s, the Zulia Eagles won their first two championships, all the way to also winning their first two Caribbean Series.

In 1991, the league expanded from 6 to 8 teams, with the additions of the Eastern Caribbeans (Caribes de Oriente) who are now the Anzoátegui Caribbeans (Caribes de Anzoátegui); and the Cabimas Oilers (Petroleros), who became the Llanos Shepherds (Pastora de los Llanos) and from the 2007-08 season on, the Margarita Braves (Bravos de Margarita). This led to a change in format, with the 8 teams being organized in two divisions: the Eastern Division (División Oriental) with the teams Caracas, Magallanes, La Guaira and Oriente; and the Western Division (División Occidental) with the teams Zulia, Lara, Aragua and Cabimas. The first two teams from each division by the end of the first league phase of the tournament, would qualify to the round robin semifinals.

The format would change again some years later, with the addition of a wildcard team on the semifinals: the best placed third place from the two divisions, would accompany the other four teams in a round robin semifinal.

For the 2007-08 season, with the move of the Pastora team from the western city of Acarigua to the eastern city of Porlamar, the Western Division and the Eastern Division were merged in one single division of 8 teams, with the top 5 teams advancing to the semifinals.

In recent years, Tigres de Aragua has become the most dominant team of the league, winning the crown 6 times in the last decade, although Leones del Caracas and Navegantes del Magallanes remain the most victorious Venezuelan teams in the history of the league.

All Star Game[edit]

The league has scheduled All Star Games each year, sometime featuring criollos (Venezuelan) vs importados (foreigners) or Western Division vs Eastern Division, and even a Venezuela's League Stars vs. Rep. Dominicana's League Stars interleague all star game during the 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 tournaments.

Current Teams[edit]

Team City Stadium Capacity
Águilas del Zulia Maracaibo Estadio Luis Aparicio El Grande 23,900
Bravos de Margarita Porlamar Estadio Nueva Esparta 16,100
Cardenales de Lara Barquisimeto Estadio Antonio Herrera Gutiérrez 20,450
Caribes de Anzoátegui Puerto La Cruz Estadio Alfonso Chico Carrasquel 18,000
Leones del Caracas Caracas Estadio Universitario 25,690
Navegantes del Magallanes Valencia Estadio José Bernardo Pérez 15,500
Tiburones de la Guaira Play in Caracas but representing La Guaira Estadio Universitario 25,690
Tigres de Aragua Maracay Estadio José Pérez Colmenares 15,328

Format[edit]

The league houses eight teams in one single division and plays two round robin league phases and a playoff final (as the winterleagues in the Dominican Rep. and Colombia do). Currently, the teams play 63 games, 9 games against each of the other 7 teams, from October to December in the first league phase. The top five teams move on to another round robin league phase of 16 games per team in January known as the semifinals. The top two teams from this round advance to a best-of-7 series in a 2-3-2 homefield format at the end of January. This best-of-7 series determines the league champion. The Venezuelan champion moves on to the Caribbean Series to face the champions of the baseball leagues of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Venezuela has won the Caribbean World Series seven times, most recently in 2009 by the Tigres de Aragua (Aragua Tigers), after having won the LVBP title during the 2008-09 LVBP season.

Past Champions[edit]

Season Champion
1946 Sabios de Vargas
1946-47 Sabios de Vargas
1947-48 Cervecería Caracas
1948-49 Cervecería Caracas
1949-50 Navegantes del Magallanes
1950-51 Navegantes del Magallanes
1951-52 Cervecería Caracas
1952-53 Leones del Caracas
1953-54 Pastora de Occidente
1954-55 Navegantes del Magallanes
1955-56 Industriales de Valencia
1956-57 Leones del Caracas
1957-58 Industriales de Valencia
1958-59 Industriales de Valencia
1959-60 No champion due to a players' strike
1960-61 Industriales de Valencia
1961-62 Leones del Caracas
1962-63 Industriales de Valencia
1963-64 Leones del Caracas
1964-65 Tiburones de La Guaira
1965-66 Tiburones de La Guaira
1966-67 Leones del Caracas
1967-68 Leones del Caracas
1968-69 Tiburones de La Guaira
1969-70 Navegantes del Magallanes
1970-71 Tiburones de La Guaira
1971-72 Tigres de Aragua
1972-73 Leones del Caracas
1973-74 No Champion
1974-75 Tigres de Aragua
1975-76 Tigres de Aragua
1976-77 Navegantes del Magallanes
1977-78 Leones del Caracas
1978-79 Navegantes del Magallanes
1979-80 Leones del Caracas
1980-81 Leones del Caracas
1981-82 Leones del Caracas
1982-83 Tiburones de La Guaira
1983-84 Águilas del Zulia
1984-85 Tiburones de La Guaira
1985-86 Tiburones de La Guaira
1986-87 Leones del Caracas
1987-88 Leones del Caracas
1988-89 Águilas del Zulia
1989-90 Leones del Caracas
1990-91 Cardenales de Lara
1991-92 Águilas del Zulia
1992-93 Águilas del Zulia
1993-94 Navegantes del Magallanes
1994-95 Leones del Caracas
1995-96 Navegantes del Magallanes
1996-97 Navegantes del Magallanes
1997-98 Cardenales de Lara
1998-99 Cardenales de Lara
1999-00 Águilas del Zulia
2000-01 Cardenales de Lara
2001-02 Navegantes del Magallanes
2002-03 No champion due to a national general strike  
2003-04 Tigres de Aragua
2004-05 Tigres de Aragua
2005-06 Leones del Caracas
2006-07 Tigres de Aragua
2007-08 Tigres de Aragua
2008-09 Tigres de Aragua
2009-10 Leones del Caracas
2010-11 Caribes de Anzoátegui
2011-12 Tigres de Aragua
2012-13 Navegantes del Magallanes
2013-14 Navegantes del Magallanes

Championships per team[edit]

Team Years Total
Leones del Caracas 1947-48 (+), 1948-49 (+), 1951-52 (+), 1952–53,
1956–57, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1966–67, 1967–68,
1972–73, 1977–78, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82,
1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1994–95, 2005-06,
2009-10
  20
Navegantes del Magallanes     1949-50, 1950–51, 1954–55, 1969–70, 1976–77,
1978–79, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2001–02,
2012-2013, 2013-2014
  12
Tigres de Aragua 1971-72, 1974–75, 1975–76, 2003–04, 2004–05,
2006–07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2011–12
    9
Tiburones de La Guaira 1964-65, 1965–66, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1982–83,
1984–85, 1985–86
    7
Industriales de Valencia (†) 1955-56, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1960–61, 1962–63     5
Águilas del Zulia 1983-84, 1988–89, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1999–2000     5
Cardenales de Lara 1990-91, 1997–98, 1998-99, 2000-01     4
Sabios de Vargas (‡) 1946, 1946–47     2
Lácteos de Pastora (*) 1953-54     1
Caribes de Anzoátegui 2010-11     1

(+) Won the title as Cervecería Caracas. The team changed owners and name in 1952, but documents made public on October 4, 2011, clearly state that the franchise official name (Caracas Baseball Club) remained constant during all sale transactions in 1949, 1952 and 2001. This has resulted in a change on the historical stats of Leones del Caracas.[1]

(†) The team moved to a different city, and changed its name in 1968. The team disappeared by 1969, and was replaced with a new franchise.

(‡) The team folded at the end of the 1952-53 season, and was replaced with a new franchise.

(*) Played only in a National Championship Series called El Rotatorio.

Defunct teams[edit]

Venezuelan Caribbean Series Champions[edit]

Team Series Championship Series Appearances Championship Years
Leones del Caracas 2 14 1982, 2006
Navegantes del Magallanes 2 12 1970, 1979
Águilas del Zulia 2 5 1984, 1989
Tigres de Aragua 1 9 2009

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Caracas has 20 Championships and was Founded in 1942 (In Spanish)

External links[edit]