Baseball was first introduced to Cuba in 1860s by students who returned from the US and also from Western sailors docked in the nation. It quickly became popular and was spread widely.
In 1878, the Cuban League was established composed of 3 teams - Mantanzas, Habana, and Almendares - each playing 4 games. At first, players were all whites and amateurs but professionalism soon emerged as rivalry among teams strengthen.
The Cuban Revolution in 1959 resulted significant changes that reached the sports community. Baseball was chosen as the sport that symbolizes Cuba's nationalism after the revolution. (Since the 19th century, baseball has already served as a symbol of Cuban pride.)
After the revolution concluded, guerilla leaders joined in exhibition matches in baseball as symbolic gestures. The 1960s also saw the replacement of pro baseball system with the Cuban National Series, an amateur baseball league. This is to encourage post-revolutionary games that depend on national ideals and not montery gain.
During the same period, Cuba's government created the INDER (Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation). This agency handled the physical education functions and the coordination of everything related to sports and served as a driving point in prioritizing success in sports games. Cuba's eventual succss in the international sports scene put the revolution at the forefront and became a symbol of its triumph. Participation in sports was made essential as part of the revolutionary activity.
Baseball still played a key role even after the revolution, along with soccer and boxing.The government encourages its people to pursue sports albeit for a more political reason. Although it can be argued that sports really serve as a factor in improving health, it can also be surmised that games serve as training grounds for citizens in the area of self-defense.
From the outside, everything seemed good. However, when the professional system was removed to make way for amateur leagues, players ended up not getting paid enough. Prominent players only made an average of USD 2,000 per year. The situation got worse with Russia's collapse in the 90s. Because of this, a number of players defected to the US for more rewarding opportunities. During this time, the sports scene in Cuba was also marred by bribery scandals which saw players and coaches fixing games and getting suspended as a result.
Baseball has been a very popular sports in the country since it was introduced in the 1870s by Horace Wilson, a teacher in Tokyo. Japan's first known baseball team was named Shimbashi Athletic Club established in 1878. The sport is named 野球 (yakyū) in Japanese.
Nippon Professional Baseball is the pro baseball association in Japan. They also have 2 leagues like in the US - the Pacific and Central Leagues - each composed of 6 teams. Pro baseball season lasts for 8 months, with games starting in April and the finals in October. Teams typically play 144 matches (US major league teams play 162).
Corporations are the owners of various baseball teams where only 4 foreign players are allowed each. Previously, teams are only identified with the corporation's name but now they are including the place name. More than half of the team names is a combination of place and corporation's name.
In the Nippon League, draws are not permitted and strike zone and smaller baseball are used. (In MLB, draws are also not permitted except for exhibition games.) The baseball itself used in Japan is wound harder and tighter than its American counterpart. Also, the strike zone is less wider on the inside so 5 Nippon League teams have undersized their respective home fields. Rules are pretty much just like those used for the Major League Baseball.
Another main difference between the MLB and NPB is their limits to lengths of matches. On a usual season, 12 innings is the limit and during playoffs, the limit is 15. Limits are employed in order for the audience to not miss the final train. An exceptional circumstance happened on the 2011 NPB season where power concerns played a factor due to the March 11 disaster. The game is set to end 3 and a half hours after the first pitch.
In United Kingdom
Even though baseball is considered to have come from Britain circa 1750s, it was not until many years later that it would be recognized formally.
Popularity of baseball peaked in the country years before the WWII wherein baseball players shared grounds with football playesr. Each professional game at that time had a maximum of 10,000 audience in each game.
Founded in 1890, the British Baseball Federation serves as the governing body for UK baseball leagues. Clubs pay membership fees every year to play in the Junior Leagues and BBF Leagues. There are currently almost 50 baseball teams composed of over 800 adult and junior players. The Junior Great British National Team is composed of 15 members.
Baseball season starts every April and lasts until August. The four levels in the national game, from the highest level, are the following:
The first 3 tiers are split into the Southern and Northern Conference which have final four games by the end of every season. The resulting top 2 teams from each Conference will play an elimination game with each other and the winning teams will proceed to the Championship Series. The finals on National League is best of 3 while the AAA and AA championships are single matches only.
Northern Ireland's only baseball team, Belfast Northerners, is associated instead to the Irish Adult League.