Cuba Baseball League over a Half Century

Peter C. Bjarkman

Occidentales

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 19 — The eve of an historic fiftieth National Series championship season provides the perfect occasion for a review of the full half-century of championship seasons past. This brief article is designed to give readers a capsule overview of the previous forty-nine Cuban League campaigns by focusing on team titles won and also on the championship history (or non-championship history) of each of the 34 different ball clubs that have competed in at least one previous National Series campaign.

The constantly shifting structure of league play over the first quarter-century (1962-1985)—plus the transition from a single-season round-robin format to a post-season playoff format in the mid-1980s—have together lent a somewhat chaotic appearance to the first half-century of Cuban League action. The following lists therefore may help to bring some needed clarity to an overview of league championship play.

Of sixteen provincial teams currently making up the National Series structure—most of them dating back to the 1977-78 campaign (NS#17)—only Industirales boasts a history stretching back all the way to the league’s earliest days; Industriales first appeared for the second-ever National Series during the 1962-1963 winter season. The second oldest pedigrees belong to both Matanzas and Pinar del Río, clubs that debuted originally for the seventh league campaign (1967-68). It is not therefore surprising that Havana’s proud Industriales club now owns the league’s largest collection of championship banners (an even dozen titles).

But it might come as something of a mild shock that venerable Matanzas (with 25 campaigns to its credit) is one of the nine current clubs still never to earn a single championship trophy; Matanzas is also the only currently league outfit carrying the dubious distinction of never having reached post-season action. Camagüey (no titles in 40 full seasons) remains the Cuban League’s most consistent loser, despite nine different shots at playoff competition (in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2010). Havana’s recently woeful Metropolitanos club ranks a close second for inefficiently with no titles and but two playoff opportunities (1998 and 2000) during 36 lackluster league campaigns.

Among managers, Jorge Fuentes still claims the most titles (with five, one while directing Pinar del Río and four under the Vegueros banner representing the same province). Ramón Carneado (four straight with Industriales in the mid-1960s) boasts the honor for most consecutive managerial triumphs, while three others (Higinio Vélez, Pedro Jova and Antonio Pacheco) have claimed back-to-back-to-back three-peats as National Series champions.

Here then (in the form of some intriguing lists) is a valuable capsule summary of the first half-century of Cuban League team championship history. This is but the first in a series of forthcoming columns in which past league history will be summarized on the eve of what promises to be a thrilling and truly historic “golden anniversary” National Series baseball campaign.

Ranked Listing of Cuban League Champions (1962-2010)

(Championships won during post-season playoffs marked in Boldface; Defunct teams marked with #)

Industirales (12): 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1973, 1986, 1992, 1996, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010

Santiago de Cuba (8): 1980, 1989, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008

#Vegueros (6): 1978, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988

Villa Clara (4): 1983, 1993, 1994, 1995

#Henequeneros (3): 1970, 1990, 1991

#Azucareros (3): 1969, 1971, 1972

Pinar del Río (2): 1997, 1998

#Citricultores (2): 1977, 1984

#Habana (2): 1968, 1974

Habana Province (1): 2009

Holguín (1): 2002

Sancti Spíritus (1): 1979

#Ganaderos (1): 1976

#Agricultores (1): 1975

#Orientales (1): 1967

#Occidentales (1): 1962

Chronological Listing of Cuban League Champions (1962-2010)

(Pre-Playoffs Era)

1962 (National Series #1)          Occidentales (Fermín Guerra, Manager)

1962-63 (National Series #2)      Industriales (Ramón Carneado)

1963-64 (National Series #3)      Industriales (Ramón Carneado)

1964-65 (National Series #4)      Industriales (Ramón Carneado)

1965-66 (National Series #5)      Industriales (Ramón Carneado)

1966-67 (National Series #6)      Orientales (Roberto Ledo)

1967-68 (National Series #7)      Habana (Juan Gómez)

1968-69 (National Series #8)      Azucareros (Servio Borges)

1969-70 (National Series #9)      Henequeneros (Miguel A. Domíngüez)

1970-71 (National Series #10)    Azucareros (Pedro Delgado)

1971-72 (National Series #11)    Azucareros (Servio Borges)

1972-73 (National Series #12)    Industriales (Pedro Chávez)

1973-74 (National Series #13)    Habana (Jorge Triguora)

1974-75 (National Series #14)    Agricultores (Orlando Leroux)

1975-76 (National Series #15)    Ganaderos (Carlos Gómez)

1976-77 (National Series #16)    Citricultores (Juan Bregio)

1977-78 (National Series #17)    Vegueros (José M. Pineda)

1978-79 (National Series #18)    Sancti Spíritus (Candido Andrade)

1979-80 (National Series #19)    Santiago de Cuba (Manuel Miyar)

1980-81 (National Series #20)    Vegueros (José M. Pineda)

1981-82 (National Series #21)    Vegueros (Jorge Fuentes)

1982-83 (National Series #22)    Villa Clara (Eduardo Martin)

1983-84 (National Series #23)    Citricultores ((Tomás Soto)

1984-85 (National Series #24)    Vegueros (Jorge Fuentes)

(Era of Post-Season Playoffs)

1985-86 (National Series #25)    Industriales (Pedro Chávez, Manager)

1986-87 (National Series #26)    Vegueros (Jorge Fuentes)

1987-88 (National Series #27)    Vegueros (Jorge Fuentes)

1988-89 (National Series #28)    Santiago de Cuba (Higinio Vélez)

1999-90 (National Series #29)    Henequeneros (Gerardo Junco)

1990-91 (National Series #30)    Henequeneros (Gerardo Junco)

1991-92 (National Series #31)    Industriales (Jorge Trigoura)

1992-93 (National Series #32)    Villa Clara (Pedro Jova)

1993-94 (National Series #33)    Villa Clara (Pedro Jova)

1994-95 (National Series #34)    Villa Clara (Pedro Jova)

1995-96 (National Series #35)    Industriales (Pedro Medina)

1996-97 (National Series #36)    Pinar del Río (Jorge Fuentes)

1997-98 (National Series #37)    Pinar del Río (Alfonso Urquiola)

1998-99 (National Series #38)    Santiago de Cuba (Higinio Vélez)

1999-00 (National Series #39)    Santiago de Cuba (Higinio Vélez)

2000-01 (National Series #40)    Santiago de Cuba (Higinio Vélez)

2000-02 (National Series #41)    Holguín (Héctor Hernández)

2000-03 (National Series #42)    Industriales (Rey Vicente Anglada)

2000-04 (National Series #43)    Industriales (Rey Vicente Anglada)

2000-05 (National Series #44)    Santiago de Cuba (Antonio Pacheco)

2000-06 (National Series #45)    Industriales (Rey Vicente Anglada)

2000-07 (National Series #46)    Santiago de Cuba (Antonio Pacheco)

2000-08 (National Series #47)    Santiago de Cuba (Antonio Pacheco)

2000-09 (National Series #48)    Habana Province (Esteban Lombillo)

2000-10 (National Series #49)    Industriales (Germán Mesa)

2010-11 (National Series #50)    To Be Determined

Managers with Multiple National Series Championships

(Championships won in post-season playoffs marked in Boldface)

Jorge Fuentes (Vegueros) (5): 1982 (Vegueros), 1985 (Vegueros), 1987, (Vegueros), 1988 (Vegueros), 1997 (Pinar del Río)

Higinio Vélez (Santiago de Cuba) (4): 1989, 1999, 2000, 2001

Ramón Carneado (Industriales) (4): 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966

Antonio Pacheco (Santiago de Cuba) (3): 2005, 2007, 2008

Rey Vicente Anglada (Industriales) (3): 2003, 2004, 2006

Pedro Jova (Villa Clara) (3): 1993, 1994, 1995

Gerardo Junco (Henequeneros) (2): 1990, 1991

Jorge Trigoura (Habana, Industriales) (2): 1974 (Habana), 1992 (Industriales)

Pedro Chávez (Industriales) (2): 1973, 1986

José M. Pineda (Vegueros) (2): 1978, 1981

Servio Borges (Azucareros) (2): 1969, 1972

Current Cuban League Teams with No National Series Championship Titles

(Arranged from longest to shortest current streaks without a first-ever National Series championship)

Camagüey (in National Series from 1968-1974, then again since 1977-78, 40 seasons, 9 total playoff appearances)

Metropolitanos (in National Series since 1974-75, 36 seasons, 2 total playoff appearances)

Las Tunas (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 2 total playoff appearances)

Cienfuegos (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 2 total playoff appearances)

Guantánamo (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 3 total playoff appearances)

Isla de la Juventud (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 5 total playoff appearances)

Ciego de Avila (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 7 total playoff appearances)

Granma (in National Series since 1977-78, 33 seasons, 9 total playoff appearances)

*Matanzas (in National Series from 1967-1974, then again since 1992-93 National Series, 25 seasons, no playoff appearances)

*Matanzas is the only team never to reach the playoffs in 25 years of National Series post-season play

Defunct Cuban League Teams with No National Series Championship Titles

(Arranged from longest to shortest streaks without a single National Series championship)

Granjeros (13 seasons: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)

Mineros (10 seasons: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)

Las Villas (8 seasons: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974)

Constructores (5 seasons: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)

Serranos (5 seasons: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)

Forestales (3 seasons: 1975, 1976, 1977)

Arroceros (3 seasons: 1975, 1976, 1977)

Cafetaleros (3 seasons: 1975, 1976, 1977)

Centrales (2 seasons, 1966, 1967)

Peter C. Bjarkman is the author of A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006 (McFarland, 2007) and is widely recognized as a leading authority on Cuban baseball, both past and present. He has reported on Cuban League action and the Cuban national team for www.BaseballdeCuba.com during the past three-plus years and is currently completing a book on the history of the post-revolution Cuban national team.



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