Baseball rises in Argentina thanks to Venezuelan migration

In soccer-obsessed Argentina, there’s little place for other sports, and baseball is not the exception. The average Argentine knows very little about it, and there’s only one baseball field in the capital of Buenos Aires, a city with close to 16 million people. But in the past few years, baseball is attracting more players and more fans in the South American country.

The World

In soccer-obsessed Argentina, there’s little place for other sports, and baseball is no exception. The average Argentine knows very little about it, and there’s only one baseball field in the capital, Buenos Aires, a city with close to 16 million people.

But in the past few years, baseball has been attracting more players and more fans in the South American country.

Roberto Braccini, president of Argentina’s National Baseball Federation attributes the new trend to the arrival of Venezuelan immigrants to Argentina.

Young Venezuelan baseball players pose together before a game. Tibisay Zea/The World

Close to 8 million Venezuelans have left their country over the past decade. The vast majority of them have settled in South America, where they’ve carried on their passion for baseball — in countries where soccer dominates.

About a quarter million of displaced Venezuelans now live in Argentina. Among them, talented young baseball players.

“The arrival of Venezuelan players raised the competitive level in Argentina, it brought more quality and quantity,” Braccini said.

Posing with the background of the team is Roberto Braccini, head of Argentina’s Baseball Association.Tibisay Zea/The World

In a recent game in the Deportivo Daom field in Buenos Aires, most of the players were from Venezuela.

Luis Cova, a 9-year-old in his uniform, was warming up before the game. He said he’s been playing baseball since he was 3 years old.

“When I grow up, I want to play professional ball in the United States,” Cova said. He dreams about meeting his idol, Venezuelan outfielder Ronald Acuña, Jr. with the Atlanta Braves.

Baseball player, Luis Cova, is all smiles as he prepares to practice.Tibisay Zea/The World

Cova and his family moved to Argentina in 2018, running away from repression and economic hardship. His father, Carlos Cova, shouted words of encouragement from the stadium’s bleachers.

“Baseball is everything for us in Venezuela,” Carlos Cova said. He used to play baseball back home. “It’s in our blood.”

Carlos Cova was surprised to learn that his two sons were able to continue practicing baseball in Argentina. But still, he said it hasn’t been quite the same as back home.

He pointed out that the competition level isn’t as high as it is in Venezuela, and that there are limitations for immigrants to represent a foreign country.

A group of Venezuelan immigrants before a baseball game between local teams in Buenos Aires’ only baseball field, Daom Sports Club.Tibisay Zea/The World

Last year, Carlos Gimenez, a young Venezuelan pitcher, became the first Venezuelan to debut on the Argentinian National Baseball Team. “It’s not easy for many Venezuelans, because they need to get Argentine citizenship before they can join a national delegation, and that process can take time,” Braccini said.

About half of the baseball players in Argentina come from Venezuela, according to Braccini.

Venezuelan players in Argentina say the sport has been a great way to integrate into the new country.

Players with Daom Sports Club during a training session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.Tibisay Zea/The World

Mateo Garcia, an Argentinian player, said baseball has allowed him to get to know Venezuelan culture.

“I’m with Venezuelans all the time,” he said, “I learned some Venezuelan slang, Venezuelan food and my friends inspired me to get serious about baseball.”

The rise of baseball, thanks to Venezuelan immigrants, is also happening in Colombia and Peru, all countries where soccer dominates.

The World Listener Survey 2024

We’d love to hear your thoughts on The World. Please take our 5-min. survey.