Last Baseball World Cup
In September, in Panama, the last Baseball World Cup ever will be played.
In the early XX century, Les Mann played for the New York Giants. He must have heard John McGraw's stories about his trip around the world and his expeditions to Cuba.
At any rate, something inspired him to dream of making baseball a worlwide sport, starting with the playing of a "true" World Series.
He started writing letters to baseball people in all countries in which he knew the sport was played, and eventually he had promises from many, many nations.
He founded the international federation that became known as FIBA, for its initials in Spanish, World Federation of Amateur Baseball.
Now came the really hard part, to convince someone to underwrite a championship. He failed miserably, and it was the middle of the Great Depression.
Finally, he found out that a team made up of college players would travel to England for a series of exhibitions...
It was in 1938. Baseball was played in England, they even had semipro leagues and imported Canadian players. One enthusiast was John Moores, owner of the Derby County soccer team that for many decades played in a baseball park the games that now are known as the EPL...
Moores decided to donate a trophy that would go to the winner of each World Championship, and would belong in perpetuity to whichever country won it three times first. It eventually went to Cuba...
They agreed that the first several games of the series in England would be the championship games, until one country won four times.
The British won in five games; they became the first ever Amateur Baseball World Champions.
Mann thought that he could keep the series going; his task would be to convince more countries to participate. Since he had the American team, and the British, his next step would the Caribbean. He discovered that the point in the United States closest to the middle of those three zones was Florida, so he moved to Miami. He got an office for FIBA in the Orange Bowl, which became the unknown capital of international baseball.
He sent out a summons, it was time to organize the 1939 World Series.
The dictator of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, was looking for an event that would improve his image and distract the people. Pro baseball was not that popular in the island at the time, the fans were going crazy with Amateur leagues and championships. Many Amateur stars, like Conrado Marrero and Quilla Valdes declined to turn pro, they could earn more money as they were.
Batista thought that the Amateur Worl Series was just what he needed. He put Col. Jaime Marine in charge. He was a great organizer. Cuba accepted to be the host of the Second Amateur World Series. England declined to participate, it was too far. Nicaragua's dictator Somoza thought the championship was a good idea, the Nica players had given a good account of themselves in the 1935 and 1938 Central American and Caribbean games. "Beat Cuba", was the war cry, and a decision was made that would cost Nicaragua players access to the Major Leagues for decades.
So the US sent its college players; they were beaten three times each by Cuba and Nicaragua (all games were won by Alfredo "Chiquirin" Garcia"). The duels between Cuba and Nicaragua, all won by the locals, sent the fans into a frenzy, especially the game that pitted the aces, Marrero and "Chino" Melendez.
Cuba asked to host the Third World Series.
The news about the success of the championship creatred a ripple of interest. Hawaii decided to attend; the US upgraded its team a bit to the point that the first future Major Leaguer was part of "Team USA", Stubby Overmire. A ferocious press campaign convinced the Venezuelan government to send a team full of local favorites, and Mexico and Puerto Rico showed up too.
The United States stopped attending the event in 1942 after a dispute. It became a Caribbean event.
With the rise of pro ball in the region, the championships stopped being played after 1953. But Avery Brudage's decision to accept the Soviet Union's athletes as "State Amateurs" instead of what they really were, "State Pros", wrestled control of sports away from Europe and into the hands of the winners of World War II. And Cuba surfaced in America as a follower of the Soviet model. After 8 years the Amateur Series was played in Costa Rica in 1961, and then in Colombia in 1965 (Cuba was forbidden to attend for political reasons), and then the modern era exploded on the scene.
The battle was to try and make baseball an Olympic sport; it made the political combatants allies. The Dominican Republic hosted the first modern Amateur World Series in 1969, with the deciding game being played last: a thrilling duel between Cuba and the US in which the Americans took a 1-0 lead only to lose 2-1.
In 1970 the series was played in Colombia, in 1971 in Cuba, and in 1972 in Nicaragua.
Then the Amateur Baseball world was rent in two; FIBA held its World Series in Cuba in 1973 (it would be its last), while the rebel FEMBA, with the greater number of paricipants held its own in Nicaragua, with Honduras and Costa Rica hosting games. St. Petersburg in Florida held the 1974 championship, and then peace was brokered in 1976.
In 1970, for the first time ever, European countries participated as Holland and Italy traveled to Cartagena, and then in 1972 the first Asians since Hawaii went to Managua, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, and the first South American-non Caribbean nation showed up, Brazil.
Finally, in 1984, in Los Angeles, baseball was admitted as an Olympic exhibition sport.
After Seoul'88 the games became open to professionals, but baseball, finally an official sport, refused to use pros.
Finally, baseball became Open in the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, but Major League Baseball allowed only minor leaguers to participate. Very few pros were playing in the Amateur Series, even though more than 60 countries were participating in the qualifiers.
The name was changed to Baseball World Cups.
In 2009, a great last try to keep baseball Olympic. A whole continent became the host nation, Europe. 22 nations participated. In Germany, baseball outdrew soccer 9000 to 2000 for one game, Germany-USA. But baseball was kicked out, Selig gave in too late. Besides, the commissioner has his Baseball Classic.
Panama is the last goodbye for the dream of Les Mann.
Maybe some day the Classic will be played seriously, and so finally replace the World Cups...
Last edited by titorondon; 06-17-2011 at 01:21 PM.
Reason: typing mistake
The 39th edition of the World Cup will start October 1st and end on the 15th. The teams have been divided into two groups. A will be comprised of the host team, Panama, plus Canada, Greece, Japan, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Taiwan nad the United States, and will play in two stadiums in Panama City, one of them being Rod Carew inaugurated in 1999. Group B has Australia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Nicaragua, South Korea and Venezuela. They will play in the provinces of Veraguas and Herrera.
Of the 38 previous championships Cuba won 25, the US four, Venezuela 3, Colombia 2 and South Korea, England, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico one each.
In total medals, Cuba has 30, the USA 15, Venezuela and Nicaragua 10, Puerto Rico 9 and South Korea 8.
Pros have been allowed since 1998, and wooden bats used since 2001.
It has been very difficult to get permission for pro players to participate in this event, in contrast to the Olympics.
After Cuba won nine Cups in a row, and 12 of 13, the US has won the last two.
That's a shame. When was it announced this would be the last ever World Cup?
RIP - HGF [1937-2009]
It was in the very muted announcement after the meeting in Havana in January between MLB and IBAF; the Classics would replace tbe Cups and MLB would replace COI with backing the expansion of baseball (which is impossible both financially and as a motivation; Selig gave in too late to the Olympic demands as Jacques Rogge had been determined for years to replace baseball and softball with his and his wife's favorite sports, rugby and golf).
At any rate, MLB's virtual refusal to allow top prospects, to say nothing of major leaguers, to compete in the Cups had doomed them to second class status, much as it is doing with the Caribbean Series. Which could be fixed with the simple expedient of allowing big leaguers to play the last two weeks of their countries' leagues and in the Caribbean Series, accomplishing many objectives, among them, having the players show up at camp in better shape and rescue Puerto Rican baseball...
FIFA believes so much in international exposure that the very powerful clubs allow their players to participate in even minuscule exhibition events, despite the very real danger of injury. They have baseball beat in every sense; baseball survives because it is so much fun to play (everybody gets to play forward and goalkeeper except the DH). That's why you have so many europeans in the minors, despite the fact that baseball is never on TV or in the papers...
Last edited by titorondon; 06-17-2011 at 01:51 PM.
Reason: typing error
RemembrancesThe first Cup I remember something about was the tenth, in 1948, everybody in Nicaragua was excited about the event. It was a pity Cuba would not attend, but people went crazy anyway, what with the opening of the new stadium. I was completely ignorant that in countries with pro ball scant attention, if any, was being paid to the event.
The Dominican Republic had lost half its team or more in an airplane accident months before, but they had wonderful new players and won the championship...
I remember in 1978 in Rimini, a town in the Adriatic in Italy, Tim Wallach and Mike Kinnunnen boarding a bus. in uniform, and being completely disoriented by the system, a ticket taker in back, finally getting off the bus after a few stops without paying. All the Italians smiled, at that time the US was universally liked...
I remember Jeff Malinoff, a firstbaseman, calling his parents and telling them about 20 000 people filling the stadium almost every night and the great atmosphere, and the night they arrived at the ballpark from the airport their son hit a homer... He never reached the Majors as a player, but did as an executive.
In that same 1972, Virgilio Navarro was an outfielder for Honduras, same as in 1951. On that previous occasion, his manager was an excellent Negro Leagues pitcher, Isidro "Papi" Fabre, who in 1976 would tell me all about his striking out Babe Ruth, and the Bambino's revenge mammoth home run.
Also in 1972, the fight for the homer leadership was close between some Cubans and Guatemala's big firstbaseman Rene Mena. Mena took the trophy with a fourtripper against the vaunted "Major League quality" Cuban pitching staff!
Also, my memories include when I was thrown out of a game in Cartagena, Colombia... and I was not even playing! Just covering the game on the field with a wireless microphone.
In 1994 Sweden was eliminated after the regular round robin... but would not leave! They loved the beaches of Nicaragua and the poolside party every night at their hotel. Baseball...
These are terrific posts. Has there been an official announcement declaring this the final World Cup? I haven't seen any...
They don't officially announce anything. There was no announcement about which region would send how many teams. They really should stop calling it the World Cup.
A lot of top prospects have played in the World Cups in 2009 and 2007.
Originally Posted by titorondon
In 2009, you had Brett Lawrie, Ike Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Justin Smoak, Brad Lincoln and Jason Castro for instance. And while there were no current major leaguers, there were a slew of former ones like Eugene Kingsale, Oswaldo Mairena, Francisco Cordova, Raul Casanova, Ruben Gotay, Chris Snelling, Randall Simon, Adam Stern, etc., etc.
Many countries sent an "A" team to the 2009 Baseball World Cup - Cuba, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden and others sent their top team. Others, like Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia or the Netherlands sent the top team they could without their major leaguers. Only a few countries (China, South Korea, Japan) clearly sent squads that were neither an "A" team nor an "A" team minus the big leaguers.
It's a shame that the Baseball World Cup will be gone after this year. Stupid IBAF (now there's a line we've heard a lot).
It is true that since they fell into the hands of the Europeans IBAF is inept, but Selig and MLB have been trying to kill them off for years...
MLB gave permission for their minor leaguers to play in Panama. With the usual restrictions, I imagine...
Do you think the Nationals would let Harper and Strasburg go if they were asked?
I can see the Nationals allowing Harper, but not Strasburg. He has just started pitching again and doubt they would want to risk another injury; especially not wearing a Nationals uniform.
Originally Posted by USA101
Does anybody know how to see the games On the net for free or on tv?
I believe MLB Network will be playing the American games but not sure of the others.
Taiwan and Puerto Rico have announced their rosters for the World Cup. See http://www.baseball-reference.com/bu...d_Cup_(Rosters)
Taiwan's is very similar to their team that beat Cuba in the 2011 World Port Tournament. It's a mix of amateur and US minor league players, as in past World Cups. Minor leaguers are catcher Chun-Hsiu Chen (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bu...Chun-Hsiu_Chen), who hit 16 homers in AA this year, pitcher Ching-Lung Lo (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Ching-Lung_Lo), who might have ended his US career this year after peaking at AAA last year, pitcher Yao-Lin Wang (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Yao-Lin_Wang) who had a decent year in low A, former White Sox farmhand Po-Yu Lin (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Po-Yu_Lin), outfielder Kuo-Hui Lo (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Kuo-Hui_Lo) who played in AA and utility man Fu-Lin Kuo (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fu-Lin_Kuo) who put up okay numbers in Rookie ball.
For Puerto Rico, it's a worse roster than they used to finish fourth in 2009. They still have a few former big leaguers in Hiram Bocachica, Javier Valentin, Alex Cintron, Cesar Crespo and Juan Padilla, but a lot more guys from the amateur ranks. In 2009, they had nine ex-major leaguers and one guy who has since made it as well as a slew of AA/AAA players. They should still be competitive but it'll be more of a challenge.
Japan has also been announced - http://www.baseball-reference.com/bu...Rosters)#Japan - as usual for a World Cup, they're going with an amateur All-Star team. About a third of the guys have played in a prior World Cup. They have one college pitcher as well. Probably a few of these guys will be pro in a couple years. Since pros have competed in the Cup, Japan's still been competitive, with Bronzes in 2003 and 2007. They're trying to recover from a poor 10th place finish in 2009, when they had an outfield of current NPB players Hisayoshi Chono, Ikuhiro Kiyota and Sho Aranami.
They are not amateur all stars by any means. Many of them have no hope of being drafted (too old, etc.) and one former pro player.