Baseball

Facts

Discipline of Baseball/Softball
Participants 899
NOCs 18
Competitions held 6 (Venues)
Distinct events 1
IF World Baseball Softball Confederation, International Baseball Federation

Description

Baseball originated in the United States, the game having been invented in the early 19th century. Popular lore attributes its discovery to Abner Doubleday, in Cooperstown, New York, but research indicates that it is highly unlikely he actually discovered the game. Its exact origins are unclear, although it probably had some relation to the British games of cricket and rounders.

American baseball has been contested at the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1912, 1936, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988. In 1952, pesäpallo (“Finnish baseball”) was demonstrated at the Helsinki Olympics. American baseball became a full medal sport at Barcelona in 1992. The USA does not dominate the sport in international play, as the Cubans and several Central American countries produce excellent teams, although the USA upset the Cubans and won the gold medal at Sydney in 2000. Of the five Olympic tournaments from 1992-2008, Cuba won three, the USA one, and Korea (South) one.

Internationally, baseball is governed by the International Baseball Federation (IBF), which was founded in 1938 and had 193 National Federations and 14 Associate Members as of 2022. The organization was known as the Federación Internacional de Béisbol Amateur (FIBA) from 1944 to 1976, and as the International Baseball Association (AINBA [Asociación Internacional de Béisbol Amateur], shortened to IBA from 1984 onwards) from 1976 to 2000. In 1973, a separate group was formed, called the Federación Mundial de Béisbol Amateur (FEMBA), but FIBA and FEMBA merged in 1976 to become AINBA. When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later also classified baseball and softball as disciplines within one sport, the International Baseball Federation merged with the International Softball Federation (ISF) to become the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) on 14 April 2013, in Tokyo.

At the 2005 IOC Session baseball, along with softball, was eliminated from the Olympic Program, a decision which was confirmed in 2006. The reasons for its exclusion were several-fold. One is that Major League Baseball in the United States has been unable to set up a system similar to ice hockey and the National Hockey League (NHL), which allows all the best players to play, and the IOC wants this. Secondly, the sport is not terribly popular in Europe, which dominates the Olympic Movement. Thirdly, the sport is seen as one played mainly in the United States and the United States now has very little influence within the Olympic Movement. There were also concerns about doping use in Major League Baseball, and limited re-use of Olympic baseball stadiums in most European nations.

Cuba leads the medal count, with five medals and three golds. Twelve Cuban players have won two gold medals at the Olympics, among them Pedro Luis Lazo, who also won two silver medals.

The sport worked hard to be added back to the Olympic Games, and on 3 August 2016, at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, it was voted back on the Olympic Program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the event was won by Japan with a final-game victory over the United States.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Cuba CUB 3 2 0 5
Japan JPN 1 1 2 4
United States USA 1 1 2 4
Republic of Korea KOR 1 0 1 2
Australia AUS 0 1 0 1
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 1 0 1
Dominican Republic DOM 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Pedro Luis Lazo CUB 2 2 0 4
Omar Ajete CUB 2 1 0 3
Orestes Kindelán CUB 2 1 0 3
Omar Linares CUB 2 1 0 3
Antonio Pacheco CUB 2 1 0 3
Eduardo Paret CUB 2 1 0 3
Antonio Scull CUB 2 1 0 3
Luis Ulacia CUB 2 1 0 3
José Antonio Estrada CUB 2 0 0 2
Alberto Hernández CUB 2 0 0 2
Juan Padilla CUB 2 0 0 2
Lázaro Vargas CUB 2 0 0 2

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Baseball Men 15