Baseball - History - Baseball Around The World

Baseball Around The World

Main article: History of baseball outside the United States See also: Baseball in Cuba, Baseball in Japan, and Baseball in the United Kingdom

Baseball, widely known as America's pastime, is well established in several other countries as well. The history of baseball in Canada has remained closely linked with that of the sport in the United States. As early as 1877, a professional league, the International Association, featured teams from both countries. While baseball is widely played in Canada and many minor league teams have been based in the country, the American major leagues did not include a Canadian club until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team. In 1977, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League. The Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, the first and still the only club from outside the United States to do so. After the 2004 season, Major League Baseball relocated the Expos to Washington, D.C., where the team is now known as the Nationals.

In 1847, American soldiers played what may have been the first baseball game in Mexico at Parque Los Berros in Xalapa, Veracruz. A few days after the Battle of Cerro Gordo, they used the "wooden leg captured (by the Fourth Illinois regiment) from General Santa Anna". The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba, which maintains a rich baseball tradition and whose national team has been one of the world's strongest since international play began in the late 1930s (all organized baseball in the country has officially been amateur since the Cuban Revolution). The Dominican Republic held its first islandwide championship tournament in 1912. Professional baseball tournaments and leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), Mexico (1937), and Puerto Rico (1938). The Japanese major leagues—the Central League and Pacific League—have long been considered the highest quality professional circuits outside of the United States. Japan has a professional minor league system as well, though it is much smaller than the American version—each team has only one farm club in contrast to MLB teams' four or five.

After World War II, professional leagues were founded in many Latin American nations, most prominently Venezuela (1946) and the Dominican Republic (1955). Since the early 1970s, the annual Caribbean Series has matched the championship clubs from the four leading Latin American winter leagues: the Dominican Winter League, Mexican Pacific League, Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League, and Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. In Asia, South Korea (1982), Taiwan (1990), and China (2003) all have professional leagues.

Many European countries have professional leagues as well, the most successful, other than the Dutch league, being the Italian league founded in 1948. Compared to those in Asia and Latin America, the various European leagues and the one in Australia historically have had no more than niche appeal. In 2004, Australia won a surprise silver medal at the Olympic Games. The Israel Baseball League, launched in 2007, folded after one season. The Confédération Européene de Baseball (European Baseball Confederation), founded in 1953, organizes a number of competitions between clubs from different countries, as well as national squads. Other competitions between national teams, such as the Baseball World Cup and the Olympic baseball tournament, have been administered by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) since its formation in 1938. By 2009, the IBAF had 117 member countries. Women's baseball is played on an organized amateur basis in many of the countries where it is a leading men's sport. Since 2004, the IBAF has sanctioned the Women's Baseball World Cup, featuring national teams.

After being admitted to the Olympics as a medal sport beginning with the 1992 Games, baseball was dropped from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at the 2005 International Olympic Committee meeting. It remained part of the 2008 Games. The elimination of baseball, along with softball, from the 2012 Olympic program enabled the IOC to consider adding two different sports, but none received the votes required for inclusion. While the sport's lack of a following in much of the world was a factor, more important was Major League Baseball's reluctance to have a break during the Games to allow its players to participate, as the National Hockey League now does during the Winter Olympic Games. Such a break is more difficult for MLB to accommodate because it would force the playoffs deeper into cold weather. Seeking reinstatement for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the IBAF proposed an abbreviated competition designed to facilitate the participation of top players, but the effort failed. Major League Baseball initiated the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to precede the major league season, partly as a replacement, high-profile international tournament. The inaugural Classic, held in March 2006, was the first tournament involving national teams to feature a significant number of MLB participants.

Read more about this topic:  Baseball, History

Famous quotes containing the words the world, world and/or baseball:

    ...I had grown up in a world that was dominated by immature age. Not by vigorous immaturity, but by immaturity that was old and tired and prudent, that loved ritual and rubric, and was utterly wanting in curiosity about the new and the strange. Its era has passed away, and the world it made has crumbled around us. Its finest creation, a code of manners, has been ridiculed and discarded.
    Ellen Glasgow (1873–1945)

    A poet would a-wishing go,
    And he wished love were thus and so.
    “If but it were,” he said, said he,
    “And one thing more that may not be,
    This world were good enough for me.”
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)

    How, in one short century, has this ersatz sport so strangled the consciousness of the country in the grip of its flabby tentacles that the mention of women’s baseball gets no reaction other than blank amazement?
    Darlene Mehrer, As quoted in Women in Baseball. Ch. 6, by Gai Ingham Berlage (1994)