History of Baseball5

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) launched a project for a new urban version of baseball/softball in 2017. The new five-on-five discipline -- which only requires a ball to play -- was based on the ‘four corners’ game that was born on the streets of Cuba. Then in the summer of 2017, the WBSC, together with the French Baseball Softball Federation (FFBS), demonstrated Baseball5 at the Friendship Games in Bujumbura, Burundi.

Later that year, Baseball5 received its first international acknowledgement when the concept was nominated for the Peace and Sport Award in the ‘Sport Made Simple’ category.

“WBSC is humbled and honoured,” commented WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. "We have been specifically focused on creating a fresh, new discipline that serves as an easy-to-access tool that provides similar social and sports development benefits, but with a smaller, simpler version of the game. This important social responsibility project perfectly aligns with our vision to reach one billion people across the globe."

The very first WBSC Baseball5 Championship took place in Havana, Cuba, on 23 and 24 November 2017. The event was held in collaboration with Cuba’s National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). It served as the semi-finals and finals of INDER’s Cuatro Esquinas (Four corners) Championships that crowned national champions in the Men’s, Women’s, Mixed and Youth categories. Five-inning games were played with five on-field players on each side. Competitors were limited to using only their bare hands to hit and field the balls.

Just before the the championships in Cuba, WBSC revealed the Baseball5 brand identity and slogan: #PlayEverywhere.

The potential of Baseball5 was showcased in the Gambia in January 2018. Run the Bases, a Sport for Development organization, engaged the local community on a beach. At the time of writing, there is no baseball or softball field in the small country on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

After an initial trial period, WBSC unveiled the Official Rules of Baseball5 in March 2018. In conjunction with the set of rules, WBSC launched a six-language web platform and an educational video. (Around this time and following a successful trial period, the WBSC Executive Board officially accepted Baseball5 as an official discipline of baseball/softball/WBSC.)

"This represents a major milestone in the modern evolution of building baseball and softball into not only a major global sport, but also a long-term Olympic sport that will continue to appeal to youth," commented WBSC President Fraccari.

In May 2018, Baseball5 was included at the Arnold Classic Africa Festival, the multi-sport event created by actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and at the Foro Italico in Rome, Italy.

On the sidelines of Tennis’ Italian Open, teams representing the host nation, France and Cuba took the field.

In another major milestone for the young discipline, Baseball5 was granted a demonstration zone at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina. – Argentina is now one of the most active Baseball5 countries in the world, highlighted by the Argentinian baseball and softball federations signing a cooperation agreement to develop Baseball5 across the nation.

Closely observing the growth and wider practice of Baseball5, WBSC enacted various amendments to the first edition of the official rules, which were published in January 2019.

In March 2019, Cuba hosted the first Baseball5 Workshop for Continental Instructors, there a pool of continental instructors were formed and certified.

In April 2019, Cuba defeated Venezuela in the final of the inaugural Baseball5 Americas Open, which was played in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

The WBSC, together with Baseball Australia, presented Baseball5 during the 2019 SportAccord Convention on the Gold Coast. Amongst other personalities, former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon showed appreciation of the five-on-five urban version of the game. Australia is now one of the most active nations in the five-on-five game, running Baseball5 within a national “sporting school” programme. 

In January 2020, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee voted to include Baseball5 as official medal sport of the Youth Olympics programme.

Prior to the onset of the global pandemic, France defeated hosts Lithuania in the final of the European Baseball5 Championship in February 2020. It was the first-ever continental championship and WBSC World Cup qualifier for the new urban version of baseball/softball.

The first WBSC Baseball5 World Cup is scheduled for 2022.