Baseball

Facts

Discipline of Baseball/Softball
Participants 761
NOCs 16
Competitions held 5 (Venues)
Distinct events 1
IF World Baseball Softball Confederation, International Baseball Federation

Description

Baseball is an American sport, 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 is probably based somewhat on 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 (IBAF) which was founded in 1938 and had 112 members as of 2013. 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 IOC later also classified baseball and softball as disciplines within one sport, the International Baseball Federation merged with the International Softball Federation to become the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) on 14 April 2013 in Tokyo. As of 2020 the WBSC had 141 member nations.

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.

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 2020/21 Tokyo Olympics.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Cuba CUB 3 2 0 5
United States USA 1 0 2 3
Republic of Korea KOR 1 0 1 2
Japan JPN 0 1 2 3
Australia AUS 0 1 0 1
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 1 0 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 14