As a lifelong baseball fan, I was curious about baseball in Portugal. Is it played there? Is it a common sport? Will I be able to go to many games?
Let me tell you what I found out. But first, allow me to talk about my interest in the sport.
Looking Towards the Past – Growing Up with Baseball in the US
I have always been a baseball fan. Beginning with T-ball at six years old, I grew up playing baseball. Other than one unassisted triple play I made, I was never really exceptional at playing. Oddly enough, I grew to love the game even more as a fan long after my playing days were over.
I follow Major League Baseball every year with my MLB app and subscription which I intend to keep in Portugal. Since their inaugural season in 1998, my favorite team has been the Tampa Bay Rays. Angie and I raised our kids in that area from 1995 until 2012.
Before the Rays, my favorite team was the Baltimore Orioles. I spent my youth living in the Washington D.C. area. Until 2005, the Washington Nationals (another local team) were still in Montreal and known as the Expos. I still love my Rays, but I am a firm believer in appreciating the game itself. I will pull for any team if they play the game well…except the Red Sox…or the Yankees (but I still respect them).
We have lived in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area for the last nine years. I taught high school math for seven of those years. All during that time, I have enjoyed watching high school baseball. For a couple of years, I also was involved as an umpire for the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), and for the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA). Baseball leagues need people to do the work necessary to give kids great opportunities to have fun.
Current Baseball Trends in Portugal
In Portugal, baseball is relatively unknown, at least by American standards. There is a Portuguese Atlantic Baseball League, which is the highest professional league in the country. It was founded in 2006 and it consists of seven teams. It has a 24 game season that runs from April to July with the 4 best teams making the playoffs.
There is also an all-star game and home run derby at the end of the season with the players voted in by the fans. It’s not quite the 162-game season that I’m used to with MLB, but I plan to get into it as a fan of good baseball.
In Coimbra where we plan to live, the university’s student union is called Associação Académica de Coimbra (AAC), founded in 1887. It’s the biggest such organization in Europe. In addition to being dedicated to culture and student life, the AAC has several sports teams and is one of the biggest sports clubs in all of Portugal. The AAC has 28 sports represented with baseball being represented only since 1994. The Academica Coimbra team is one of the seven in the Portuguese Atlantic Baseball League.
I haven’t been able to see much about the team on internet searches, so I suppose it’s not going to be too difficult to get individual or season tickets. Baseball for the AAC is practiced on one of two fields at the Campo de Santa Cruz, near the oldest campus of the university, the Pólo I campus.
Looking Towards the Future – Baseball in Portugal
I would like to one day get my little boy involved with baseball once we move. After doing a quick search, it may be difficult to make that happen. There doesn’t seem to be any baseball leagues geared for younger kids in the Coimbra region. I found a blog post written in 2013 by someone who found the only youth league in the greater Lisbon area (Almada).
It may be near impossible to find baseball teams in Coimbra, but I will still try. Maybe once I get to Portugal, I can give my time and passion for the game to bring what I believe is the perfect team sport to an area that doesn’t know much about it.
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