Not every sport is popular like football, where you could name a few large leagues without even needing to stop and think. Other sports, like basketball, are also fairly popular, yet the clubs outside the NBA aren’t as popular as one might think. Yes, it is popular in Europe, but not as much as the United States.
Another sport which is very popular in the US is baseball. With its MLB, baseball remains one of the top sports in the US, but for the rest of the world, it is lower on the list of top sports, much lower in some countries. Yet, there are multiple popular baseball leagues, even if you have perhaps not heard of them. Here are the world’s most important baseball leagues.
Major League Baseball – United States
The MLB is one of the most popular leagues in the world, simply because baseball is very popular in the US and because they have a lot of high profile players, who are also popular and paid large sums of money. It was founded in 1903 by the merging of the National League founded in 1876 and the American League founded in 1901. It has 30 teams from the United States and Canada. It is one of the most important baseball leagues in the world, setting a standard for every other league.
Nippon Professional Baseball
Founded in 1950, its roots can be traced back to a club called the Greater Japan Tokyo Baseball Club and a league called the Japanese Baseball League.
This league existed from 1936 until 1949.
Interestingly enough, baseball was played even during World War II, up until its very end.
The NPB has two leagues, the Central League and Pacific League. They both have six teams and the rules mirror those of the MLB, with slight adjustments like smaller fields, strike zones and the baseball itself.
Korea Baseball Championship
The KBO was founded in 1982, and it is a heavily sponsored league, having first 8, then expanding to 10 franchises. It is an immensely popular league in South Korea and its most popular and winningest team is the Kia Tigers, with 11 titles out of 38. It is worth noting that teams are often referred to by their sponsors, then by the nicknames, but almost never by the cities in which they are based.
In the Netherlands, the Honkbal Hoofdklasse stands for Major League Baseball and it is their highest tier of baseball in the country.
With no franchising, it has 8 teams and has a relegation and promotion system.
It was founded in 1922. Since 1987, an annual championship called the Holland Series has been played by the two playoff winners.
The winningest team is Neptunus Rotterdam, with 19 titles.
Italian Baseball League
Its actual name is Campionato italiano di baseball, and it was founded in 1948. It consists of 6 teams and is one of the more popular sports in Italy, next to football, of course. It had a promotion and relegation system until 2010, when they switched to franchising. Its winningest team is Nettuno Baseball Club, which, remarkably, stands for Neptune, the same as the winningest club from the Netherlands, with 17 titles.
These are the most popular and the most important baseball leagues in the world. There certainly are more, yet these ones have the largest fan base and following. There will be more baseball leagues with time.