February 1, 2024, will be a historic day in Nicaragua’s sports history. That will be the day when Nicaragua made its long-awaited Caribbean Series debut. Nicaragua’s baseball history is closely intertwined with Puerto Rico’s, their rival today, and we all know why. “Roberto Clemente is a national hero in Nicaragua. Any field you go to in Nicaragua, number 21 is right there on right field where it belongs, never to be worn again”, affirmed Nicaragua’s manager and native MLB veteran Marvin Benard. Benard also affirms his team is there to make an impact and win and is hopeful this will not be the last time Nicaragua is involved in the Caribbean Series. “It would be a dream to be among the countries that aren’t just invited to participate, but like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, we would love to be a fixture in this tournament soon.” Benard is Nicaragua’s all-time MLB leader in every major offensive category and is mainly known to MLB fans for his time with the San Francisco Giants. This team inducted him into their Walk of Fame.
Father and son: Jack López (backward) and Juan López (center).
Among the baseball bliss that permeated Loan Depot Park on a Thursday morning was that of a father and a son: Jack and Juan Lopez, who are on opposing teams today but are united at heart. Jack plays for Criollos de Caguas, representing the Puerto Rico league, and Juan is Nicaragua’s bench coach. “It is a blessing to be here representing both countries and leagues together as family” stated the elder Lopez as the younger stood beside him with an affirming smile. “It is a privilege to be here,” affirmed Jack. When asked how he felt about being a part of Puerto Rico and Nicaragua’s baseball history, he said he was “blessed to be here and involved.”
Another smiling member of the Nicaragua delegation was Manny Garcia, whose participation in the Series was uncertain hours ago. But because baseball, and not bureaucracy, shall prevail, all necessary boxes were checked, and Manny is fulfilling his dream of suiting up for the Caribbean Series. “Playing in the Caribbean Series after Tren del Norte in Nicaragua allowed me to play and thrive in their league. It is a dream come true.” Manny led Tren del Norte to the Finals, where, although Gigantes de Rivas defeated them, Manny now joins most of those players as a reinforcement.
The Caribbean Series begins today, and it continues until February 9. It promises to be a baseball celebration, and it will be the first time it is held in an MLB stadium.