Chile's Southern Pacific League takes baseball to new areas

Chile's Southern Pacific League takes baseball to new areas
The independent league operates in Concepcion and Los Angeles, Bio Bio Region. Founder Cristian Becker hopes he can have a season amid the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Chile Baseball Softball Federation (FECHIBEIS, Federación de Béisbol y Softbol de Chile) is carrying out activity across 1,663 of the 5,400 kilometres of the country. Baseball is played in nine districts under local associations: Arica, Iquique, Alto Hospicio, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, La Serena, San Antonio and Santiago.

The independently-run Southern Pacific League (LPS, Liga del Pacifico Sur) is growing the game in the southern Bio Bio Region.

Jorge Ramos, born and raised in Cuba, moved to Chile after graduating in Physical Education. He lives in Concepcion and works as a physical therapist. He is also the coach of the Bucaneros, one of the teams based in Concepcion. The other are the Vikingos, Titanes and Venezolano Soy. Two more teams, Pumas and Angelinos, are based in Los Angeles. The Pumas are the only club that can play and train on a dedicated baseball field.

"This league brings together the passion of Latin American baseball, from Venezuela, Cuba, Chile and Haiti," wrote Ruber Osoria in the Havana Times.

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Cristian Becker of the Vikingos clubs is also from Concepcion. "I became a baseball fan thanks to cable TV," he told the WBSC. I became a fan of the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB)."

He started playing when he entered the University of Bío Bío (yes, two Bíos) and found out there were clubs in Concepcion.

"By the middle of the 1990s, there were four or five teams active," added Becker. "Interest went down, and by the end of the decade, the only activity was within the University."

Becker recalled: "We were the most southern baseball club in the country, and we had to travel at least 500 kilometres to find some competition. That's why we started promoting baseball in the area. The Bío Bío University team was renamed Cyclones. Later it split into two different clubs: Titanes and Bucaneros. We started playing the Copa del Sur after the Pumas were born in Los Angeles."

The Copa del Sur was rebranded into the LPS in 2018.

The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Becker is not sure if and when the 2021 season will be underway.

"Currently, both Concepcion and Los Angeles are under quarantine," he said. "I'm in touch with various baseball clubs in Argentina, and I'm told they have activity. So I hope we will [also] be able to have a season in 2021."