Where Is Baseball Most Popular?

baseball

Baseball is one of the most well-known sports in America, but where is baseball most popular, and are there other countries where it is just as popular as it is in the United States? For decades, baseball has been known as “America’s Pastime,” and while it is undoubtedly most popular in America, there are many other countries where it has taken root. Here, we will look at a few of them.

List of Countries

According to statistics, the top ten countries where baseball is most popular are:

  1. United States
  2. Dominican Republic
  3. Canada
  4. Puerto Rico
  5. Cuba
  6. Iraq
  7. Nicaragua
  8. Panama
  9. Afghanistan
  10. Venezuela

Without a doubt, baseball is most popular in the United States of America, the country where it was invented in the mid-1800s. Inspired by earlier British sports such as rounders and cricket, baseball was popularized in America during the Civil War, where soldiers and civilians played it as a morale booster during the difficult conflict. In the aftermath of the war, its popularity only further increased, gaining traction exponentially until the forming of Major League Baseball in 1903. At this time, baseball became the all-consuming American sport that is known today, and its popularity has hardly waned in the decades that have followed.

The presence of baseball in America is all-consuming. According to statistics, more than 26 million Americans play baseball regularly, and baseball is a ubiquitous sport for young schoolchildren, high schoolers, and college students. Millions of Americans tune in yearly to watch the MLB season, and millions more attend Little League, high school, and college gamesEven the traditions around baseball are common in America. For instance, it is estimated that American baseball fans consume approximately 25.5 million hot dogs and 5.5 million sausages at MLB games alone each year.

While baseball is undoubtedly most popular in America, there are other countries where it is extremely beloved. Many of these countries exist in Central America and the Caribbean, where Americans gradually introduced baseball over the early and later years of its development. In particular, baseball is extremely popular in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Cuba was the first country to form a baseball league after the United States, and Cuban immigrants later spread the sport to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, various stories say that baseball may have been brought to Venezuela by Venezuelan students who had been studying in America or by a Cuban cigar company that was established in the country in 1890.   

After the United States, which produces 71% of MLB players, 10% hail from the Dominican Republic, 7% from Venezuela, 2% from Puerto Rico, and another 2% from Cuba. The Dominican Republic contributes the most players to the MLB, with 80 Dominican players on the league’s active roster as of 2021, while Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Cuba have had 54, 19, and 17 players drafted, respectively.

What is the Largest Non-American Baseball League?

While baseball is highly popular in Central American countries, there is no lack of love for it in other parts of the world, and in fact, the largest Non-American baseball league is located far away from both America and Central America. Coming in second in attendance to the MLB, Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) is the second-largest sporting league in the world by attendance. In 2015, for instance, attendance at NPB games was approximately 24.2 million, an average of around 28,248 fans per game. The largest team in the NPB, the Yomiuri Giants, drew in average crowds of approximately 42,000 fans per game. While these numbers scarcely come close to the corresponding 73.7 million fans in attendance at MLB games in 2015 (averaging at 30,517 fans per game), they clearly prove that baseball is by no means exclusive to the Western Hemisphere and is well-loved by people of all countries and cultures.