The World Baseball Classic is currently taking place, and the 2023 lineup is providing an unusual degree of excitement in Miami. The World Baseball Classic is an international baseball competition, the only one which allows the winner to claim the title of World Champion.
This international tournament, which features some of the best baseball players from around the world, has been held every four years since its inception in 2006. In this year’s tournament, Puerto Rico has been a runner-up in two competitions so far. This year, they won against Nicaragua 9-1 in the first game in Miami.
Fans set a world record
The fans of the Puerto Rico team set a world record, however. 192 men in Puerto Rico dyed their hair blond in support of the team, breaking the previous world record for number of heads of hair dyed in eight hours.
It’s a sign of the fervor of Puerto Rican baseball fans.
The team bleached their hair blond as a joke in 2017, picking up the nickname “Team Rubio [blond]” and continuing the tradition this year.
Puerto Rican fans in Miami, which has a large Puerto Rican population, brought drums and other musical instruments and noisemakers into the stands of the game for impromptu celebrations. With Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela in the tournament, Spanish was as ubiquitous as English. Over 35,000 fans attended the Puerto Rico-Nicaragua and Dominican Republic-Venezuela games, and the party atmosphere was strong throughout the stadium.
“Fans described the games as more of a party than a sporting event,” said the New York Times.
Puerto Rico and baseball
Baseball is the most popular sport in Puerto Rico. Players like Javier Baez, who plays for the New York Mets; Yadier Molina, who recently retired from the St. Louis Cardinals; and outfielder Eddie Rosario, who recently signed with the Cleveland Indians, shine for the team. Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa will not be playing in the World Classic, but is also greatly admired in Puerto Rico.
The most famous of the many great baseball players from Puerto Rico is Roberto Clemente, honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame and also for his philanthropy.
Image courtesy of Vlad Alexandru Popa under Creative Commons licensing