28/09/2023 - 01/10/2023


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2023 Year in Review: A Year of Major Milestones for International Baseball
18/12/2023 3 Minute Read

2023 Year in Review: A Year of Major Milestones for International Baseball

The year began with the most successful edition of the World Baseball Classic and finished with a historic Baseball Champions League Americas, the first-ever WBSC club competition.

The 2023 international baseball season was one of the richest ever. It featured six events, including the first two-stage Baseball World Cup, opened by awarding the first Baseball World Champion title in six years and closed with a historic first WBSC club competition.

Japan on top of the Baseball World

On 21 March, Japan defeated the United States, 3-2, in front of over 36,000 fans at loanDepot Park in Miami, Florida to win the fifth World Baseball Classic. It was their third World Baseball Classic title (after back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2009), but the first awarding the title of Baseball World Champions (the World Baseball Classic awarded the Baseball World Champion title since 2013. Previously the Baseball World Cup awarded the title from 1938 to 2011).

It became Japan's first Baseball World Champion title since they had never won a Baseball World Cup, validating their unquestionable dominance with the world No. 1 also having claimed the WBSC Premier12 in 2019, an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games and the U-23 Baseball World Cup 2022.

The fifth World Baseball Classic had a stadium attendance of 1.3 million fans. The 47 games were broadcast in 163 countries or territories and 13 different languages.

"A quintessential value of the World Baseball Classic is showing how global our sport has become and the potential to grow even further," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari to his Executive Board.

Five Times USA

The Asia Pacific International Baseball Stadium in Tainan, Taiwan, welcomed the baseball world in late July for the VII WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup.

The defending World Champions USA and the hosts Chinese Taipei competed in the final on 8 August, and the US prevailed, 10-4, to claim their fifth title in this age group in front of 8,500 spectators.

"There's no better venue for a U-12 tournament," commented USA manager Troy Gerlach.

"It sucks that both teams cannot win," he added, "but you've got to tip your hat to Chinese Taipei. They did a great job."

Former Olympic bronze medallist and 2002 MLB World Series MVP Troy Glaus was among the parents who travelled to Taiwan to support their children.

Venezuela beat Japan in the bronze medal game.

A two-stage first

The IX Women's Baseball World Cup became the first baseball tournament run with the new two-stage format. It involved 12 National Teams split into two groups.

Group A opened on 8 August in Thunder Bay, Canada. The United States, the hosts Canada and Mexico earned the three spots to the final stage.

Miyoshi City, Japan, was home to Group B, presented by CARNEXT, from 13 to 17 September. The hosts and six-time defending World Champions Japan, Chinese Taipei and Venezuela earned their pass to the finals.

The six-team final stage is scheduled from 28 July to 3 August 2024 in Thunder Bay.

Read also: Legends Ichiro Suzuki, Dice-K Matsuzaka advocate Women's Baseball in Japan

More Japan success

World No. 1 Japan entered the XXXI U-18 Baseball World Cup after claiming the WBSC Premier12 title, the Tokyo 2020 gold medal, the WBSC U-23 World Cup and the title of Baseball World Champion through the World Baseball Classic. In the U-18 age bracket, they had lost four finals.

On 10 September, they defeated the hosts Chinese Taipei, 2-1, in front of a passionate crowd of 10,000 at Tian Mou Stadium in Taipei City to claim the historic title.

"We came here to show the Japanese baseball style," said Japan's manager Shiro Mabuchi after the final. "While selecting the team, I sought players who could execute the small ball perfectly. I think Japanese players are more fit for this kind of baseball. Of course, also power can help you win. I like watching Shohei Ohtani hit home runs, as you probably do."

The tournament that changed International Baseball

When they shut out Barranquilla Caimanes, 8-0, in the final of the inaugural Baseball Champions League Americas at Kukulkan Alamo Park in Merida, Mexico, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks were aware they were making history.

"It's a great event. I cannot express how happy I am to be the manager who will go into the history books as the first edition winner," said Fargo-Moorhead skipper Chris Coste. "Winning in Mexico, my favourite country after the US makes it special."

"It's been a great experience for me as a first-year manager," said Barranquilla's Carlos Vidal. "The tournament showcased good baseball.

During the pre-tournament press conference, Commissioner Guillermo Ramirez and the host, Mexican Baseball League Executive President Horacio de la Vega, said straight: The tournament "will change international baseball forever".

The first edition involved four leagues (the Mexican Baseball League, the American Association, the Colombian Professional League and Cuba's National League) but plans for the future include a league format and the launch of a Champions League Asia and a Champions League Europe.

"We foresee the day when we will honour a Champion of Champions, the winner of the global Champions League," said Horacio de la Vega.

Read also: Burgos Family, father and son experience BCL Americas

So with 56 teams participating across five events and gold medals (across three tournaments) going to Japan (WBC & U-18 BWC) and USA (U-12 BWC); silver medals to Chinese Taipei (U-12 & U-18 BWC) and USA (WBC) and bronze medals* to Venezuela (U-12 BWC) and Korea (U-18 BWC), global baseball fans can dine out on another top quality international season and look forward to next year to see who will take the ultimate crown - the WBSC Premier12 title.

* The World Baseball Classic doesn't award bronze medals