Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional
|No. of teams||8|
|Most recent champion(s)||Caribes de Anzoategui (2nd title)|
|Most titles||Leones del Caracas (17 titles)|
Baseball exploded in Venezuela in 1941, following the world championship in Havana. By then, the appearance of professional baseball in Venezuela attracted many ball players from the Caribbean and the United States to the country, showing a more integrated sport there than it was in the United States. This is evidenced in the hiring of stellar players like Ramón Bragaña, Martín Dihigo, Oscar Estrada, Cocaina Garcia, Bertrum Hunter, Roy Campanella, Sam Jethroe, Satchel Paige, and Roy Welmaker.
On December 27, 1945, the owners of the Caracas Brewery (Cervecería 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 night games. 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.
1950s and '60s
On August 8, 1952, Pablo Morales and Oscar Prieto Ortiz purchased the Cervecería Caracas team from Martín Tovar Lange, who was the original owner and had been successful until that moment but the Caracas Brewery Co. were no longer able to sponsor him on a regular bases. So, he sold the team to Pablo Morales who renamed the team (reigning champions as Caracas Lions (Leones del Caracas), after the full name of the city, Santiago de Leon de Caracas and made it a new franchise. 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 1954 Sabios de Vargas was replaced by Santa Marta and Venezuelan Patrios came back both only for that year.
1955 a new team was added in the place of the departed Venezuela, named Pampero; while the Santa Marta 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) were brought into the league to replace Pampero.
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.
1970s to the 2000s
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, and the problems the Caracas Lions and La Guaira Sharks had in 1975-1976 to secure a baseball park to play their home games. This resulted in both teams merged into one, and forced to move to the city of Acarigua.
The '80s saw the Caracas Lions winning five tournaments, consolidating their lead as the most successful team in the league. The Lions also went on to win three championships in a row starting 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 six to eight teams, with the addition 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 eight 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 in 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 eight teams, with the top five teams advancing to the semifinals.
In recent years, Tigres de Aragua has become the most dominant team of the league, winning the crown six times in the last fifteen years, although Leones del Caracas and Navegantes del Magallanes remain the most victorious Venezuelan teams in the history of the league.
All Star Game
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.
|Águilas del Zulia||Maracaibo||Estadio Luis Aparicio El Grande||22,000|
|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||22,300|
|Navegantes del Magallanes||Valencia||Estadio José Bernardo Pérez||15,500|
|Tiburones de la Guaira||Play in Caracas but representing La Guaira||Estadio Universitario||22,300|
|Tigres de Aragua||Maracay||Estadio José Pérez Colmenares||15,328|
The league houses eight teams in one single division and starting in 2015-2016 season they have a new format. No more Round-robin tournament round robin. Now they split the season in two halves. The team with the best record in the first round will get 8 points, the second 7 points, the third 6 points, the fourth 5 points, the fifth 4 1/2 points, the sixth 4 points, the seventh 3 1/2 points and the eighth 3 points. In case of a tied, they will go by the season series against each other. On the second half of the season they repeat the same format, the six teams with more points will clinch. On the first round they will have three individual series to the get three winners and one wild card, the best second place. On the second round they will have two series, the winners will play for the championship, the best-of-7 series. 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.
|Won Caribbean Series|
Championships per team
|Leones del Caracas||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,
|Navegantes del Magallanes||1949-50, 1950–51, 1954–55, 1969–70, 1976–77,
1978–79, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2001–02,
|Tigres de Aragua||1971-72, 1974–75, 1975–76, 2003–04, 2004–05,
2006–07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2011–12
|Tiburones de La Guaira||1964-65, 1965–66, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1982–83,
|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|
|Cervecería Caracas||1947-48, 1948-49, 1951-52||3|
|Sabios de Vargas (‡)||1946, 1946–47||2|
|Caribes de Anzoátegui||2010-11, 2014-15||2|
|Lácteos de Pastora (*)||1953-54||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.
- Cervecería Caracas
- Estrellas Orientales
- Gavilanes BBC
- Indios de Oriente
- Industriales de Valencia
- Lácteos de Pastora
- Licoreros de Pampero
- Llaneros de Acarigua
- Llaneros de Portuguesa
- Pastora BBC
- Pastora de los Llanos
- Pastora de Occidente
- Patriotas de Venezuela
- Petroleros de Cabimas
- Sabios de Vargas
- Santa Marta BBC
Venezuelan Caribbean Series Champions
|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|
- VPBL official website
- PuraPelota.com – VPBL batting and pitching statistics
- Aguilas del Zulia official website
- Bravos de Margarita official website
- Cardenales de Lara official website
- Caribes de Anzoategui official website
- Leones de Caracas official website
- Navegantes del Magallanes official website
- Tiburones de la Guaira official website
- Tigres de Aragua official website