We got ahold of Agustín Tissera, an Argentina native and national team member, to talk about the Liga Argentina de Béisbol and his career to-date.  Agustín plays for his hometown Córdoba and has traversed Europe as an international veteran.

You’ve played in the LAB every year since its inaugural season in 2017.  How has the league changed and grown over the years?

Agustín: Well, at first the LAB was born as an independent league in order to generate an organized competition for the development of Argentine players.  Taking into account the experience of the players who played in Europe, it was created with a similar format with some changes in the playoffs to generate even more competition.  It was decided that all the teams that were left out [of the postseason] could put their best players in a draft to reinforce the teams that reached the final.  

Over the years the league hired import players for the teams it saw as weaker and balanced the league a little in terms of competition, so great players such as Yoimer Camacho, Ely Izturriaga, Carlos Parra, Omar Prietto, Steve Anderson, Gabriel do Carmo, and a lot others passed through Argentina. 

At first, the main motivation was not only for the winner to be named Argentine champion, but also to automatically qualify for the Latin American series, a great tournament with the champions of Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Curacao, and Nicaragua.  In 2019 we had the opportunity to play that tournament with the Falcons, being the first Argentine team to do so. 

Over the years and with the economic situation of the country, the level dropped a little and in other years it rose, but the important thing is that the Argentine player realized that he needs this league in order to grow the sport since it became a showcase for outside teams to look at the Argentine players. 

One of the main achievements of the league apart from the game itself is the number of games — Argentina is a very large country and prior to this only short tournaments of a few days were played nationally.  Today the league has 3 games per week and with the format it allows you to play 30 regular season games in 3 months.

The 2023 season saw a league expansion as the LAB became the official and only national league of Argentina, and went from 5 teams to 8. What was this change like for you? What does it mean for the development of baseball in Argentina?

Agustín: At first the league had two provinces, Salta in the north and Córdoba in the center; it had 6 teams [total].  At this time, Buenos Aires had its own provincial league but its players were part of LAB teams since the level was higher than that of Buenos Aires.  Personally, before the expansion happened, I always thought that the Argentine league would never be truly Argentine if Buenos Aires did not enter, since apart from being the capital of the country, it has a number of competitive teams and players [that are essential] to continue raising the level of baseball in the country. 

I think this year the league’s competition in expansion did not disappoint and the league is here to stay.  We hope that this attracts sponsors and economic help from industries with political power in Argentina, especially in infrastructure so that the league continues to grow.

What are the import rules/restrictions on foreign players in the LAB? What does a typical offer in Argentina look like?

Agustín: There were no rules for foreigners this last season.  Regarding what you can offer the players, it depends on each team.  Housing, food, travel surely, and the salary depend on what each team is willing to invest.  At first, 500 dollars were paid.  Today the country’s economy and the problem with the dollar make payment in US dollars complicated, but Argentina is a great place to play winter ball.

During the Argentine off-season, you played seasons in Italy and in Germany. How would you compare the LAB to the German Bundesliga or Italian Serie A?

Agustín: I have played 3 years in Italy and 3 in Germany.  I can tell you that the LAB is more similar to the Bundesliga in terms of [competition] level, but the Argentine players are extremely competitive and as the world knows — we have a great passion for the sport and our team — which makes the league attractive and any foreigner who has played here would agree. 

The only thing that differentiates us from these leagues is the economic support; Italy has former MLB or affiliate players who have just been released, we still do not have that power but I believe that Argentina is on its way to being a competitive league in the world.

Image: Tissera turning the double play for the Mannheim Tornados.

How have your summers in Europe helped you progress your game and compete back home?

Agustín: I started playing in Europe long before the Argentine league was born with the idea of raising my level and joining the Argentine national team.  My first year in Italy went very well but the year I learned the most and developed myself was in 2018. 

That year the A1 series was really very strong, with top level players with whom I shared and was able to learn a lot from.  Today with the Argentine league and the European league it is a physical challenge because I play all year round but it is part of Argentina’s plan to qualify for the WBSC.  So I would tell you that playing in Europe is a fundamental part for me at least.

You’ve won two LAB league championships and one Latin American Series championship with the Cordoba Falcons. Which year was your favorite & why?

Agustín: I got to win a South American title, participate in the Latin American Series and win 3 Argentine championships.  I think they all have something special, but if I have to choose I would say that the most special of all was the first time we won the Argentine championship.  That championship marked a turning point for Córdoba.  The team had been changing players for years, and that team spent 7-8 years working very hard to be what the Falcons are today, one of the best teams in the country. 

Image: Tissera being named MVP of the league finals, after Córdoba’s first championship title (2018).

When we went to Mexico to play the Latin American series, they thought we were the weakest team and they made us play against Mexico in the opening game with the stadium full of people.  We won 1-0 and I still have in my house the cover of the Mexican newspaper that says, “TANGO ARGENTINO EN EL BETO AVILA.”

Tissera came up with the first hit for Córdoba in the 4th inning against Mexico.   You can watch it here

We also found the full-length game footage of Córdoba’s extra inning victory against the Mexican club Tobis de Acayucan, here

How did you first hear about BBJO? What was your reason for signing up?

Agustín: I found BBJO through teammates in Europe.  I always followed the players on Instagram and one year I tried joining the system and the experience was really good.  

I received emails from many leagues and it gave me the opportunity to play in France and experience my third country playing baseball.  I always recommend BBJO since they helped me personally and especially to the Argentine teams to look for players who want to play and have a good time in our country.

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