By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The Intercontinental Professional Baseball Series, formerly the Latin American Series, will be played in Colombia. The tournament will be from January 25 to February 1, 2024.
According to Nationworldnews.com, the hope is to have eight nations compete. The countries rumored to play early next year in Colombia are Curacao, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, the United States, Cuba, and the host nation, Colombia.
“All the countries’ players have incredible talent,” tournament organizer Edison Renteria told World Baseball Network by phone. “It’s so exciting to see them be able to join the tournament.”
Renteria is a former infielder and enjoyed an 11-year playing career in minor league baseball, the Chinese Professional Baseball League, and the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. He is the President of Team Renteria Baseball Academy in Miami, Florida.
The champion of the 2023-24 Liga Profesional de Béisbol Colombiano season will represent Colombia at the Intercontinental Professional Baseball Series. The six teams in that league are Caimanes de Barranquilla, Gigantes de Cartagena, Leones de Santa Marta, Tigres de Cartagena, Toros de Sincelejo, and Vaqueros de Monteria.
The Professional Federation of Cuban Baseball Players, or FEPCUBE, could send players to the tournament affiliated with Major League Baseball organizations. The series will be the first time since the late dictator Fidel Castro closed off Cuban baseball that a team of players not affiliated with the Federacion Cubana de Beisbol will play in an international tournament.
Professional baseball players from Cuba have shared their frustrations with Cuban government restrictions regarding past events, including former Major League pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Hernandez defected from Cuba in 1997 and could not play in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
“I said, where do I live? In Cuba or the United States?” Hernandez told Cesar Brioso of USA Today in 2022. “It felt like, at that moment, that Cuba, the Cuban government, still controlled me.”
The Associated Press reported at the beginning of the Major League Baseball season in March that there were 21 players from Cuba on opening day 26-man rosters.
“I believe there is enough Cuban talent in the United States to form a team that represents us with pride,” Cuban Professional Baseball Federation president Mandy LIanes told The Cuban Baseball Digest. “It is a historic event because it is the first time we will participate in an international tournament.”
Due to the addition of nations like Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Indonesia to the series, the tournament name has changed. It was previously the Latin American Series from 2013-19. The first Latin American Series was held in February 2013 in Veracruz, Mexico. There was no tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We want to resume the Latin American Series but change the name to Intercontinental Professional Baseball Series (IPBS),” Edinson Renteria said in a Team Renteria USA press release. “The idea is that the countries that have already taken part participate together with the others from different continents.”
Renteria added in the Team Renteria USA press release that the participating countries will each be able to host the event in the coming years.
When asked how the level of talent in the Intercontinental Professional Baseball Series compares to that of the Caribbean Series or the World Baseball Classic, Renteria believes it will be tough competition.
“Maybe not the World Baseball Classic, but potentially the Caribbean Series. Colombia just won the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo in 2022. I believe the talent will be excellent,” Renteria said
Francys Romero, a baseball reporter and author of “El Sueño y la Realidad: Historias de la Emigración del Béisbol Cubano,” which translates to “Dream and Reality: Cuban Baseball Emigration Stories.” Romero also believes the tournament in Colombia has great potential.
“I don’t think this is a high-level tournament compared to the Caribbean Series,” Romero told World Baseball Network via text on WhatsApp. “It is a tournament of the non-major leagues of the Caribbean, but there is always a lot of talent in the area. I think it will be interesting and bring a lot of expectation for the players who could attend.”
Edinson Renteria stated in his press release that an agreement was made to hold the Intercontinental Professional Baseball Series for the next five years. Participation from additional countries is expected by 2025.
Team Renteria USA is expected to announce the format and venue of the tournament in the coming months.