Many people have the impression that baseball is an exclusively American game, played only on US soil. This, however, is not true, because many other countries have active leagues and thousands of professional or semi-professional players. Countries like Cuba, Japan, and South Korea have shown in many instances that they can challenge the professional players from the richest league in the world – the Major League.
The International Baseball Federation is the ruling body for the sport of baseball on a global level. It was founded in 1938, right after the first Baseball World Cup which took place in London. Soon afterward, the name of IBF was changed to FIBA – Federacion Internacional de Beisbol Amateur.
Once again, in 1976 the name of the organization was changed to International Baseball Association (the AINBA). This was not the end of new names because in 1984, the organization was to be known as IBA and then in 2000, the original name was reintroduced – the IBAF or the Internation Baseball Federation.
Baseball world cup
One of the most long-lasting competitions in the world of international baseball was the Baseball World Cup. First held in 1938, it lasted all the way to 2011 when the last tournament took place. In total, 39 World Cups were held, and Cuba is the most successful nation, winning 25 tournaments.
The Netherlands won the last tournament in 2011. It is important to note that MLS professional players did not participate in these tournaments until 1996 since the schedule of the tournament conflicted with the MLS regular season games.
Other major tournaments
Other tournaments which gathered attention from baseball fans around the world are the Caribbean Series and the World Baseball Classic. While the Carribean series is practically a regional tournament, the Baseball Classic can now be called an unofficial world cup because it takes place every four years and attracts the strongest teams in the world.
The Dominican Republic is the current champion, and the next tournament is scheduled for 2017. Other countries which managed to get on the medal sheet are Japan, South Korea, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Baseball has been an Olympic sport since 1912 when the US team beat the Vasteras team from Sweden. This was the first appearance of the game in the Olympics. The next appearance was the 1924 games in Paris, and then the 1936 games in Berlin. For these games, the US send two „all-star“ teams, which battled out in front of 90.000 spectators.
After several other appearances as a demonstration sport or simply an attraction, baseball finally became a full-right Olympic sport in 1992, for the Barcelona Games. However, baseball lasted only until Beijing 2008, because it was decided that baseball and softball are to be removed from the Olympic sports list for the 2012 London games.
Nevertheless, baseball remains a popular international sport, with 141 national federations and four associate members of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.