2020 in Review: Baseball5 takes the sport to communities never reached before

2020 in Review: Baseball5 takes the sport to communities never reached before
The year began with the inclusion of the new five-on-five discipline on the programme of the Youth Olympics.

Baseball5 began the year with a bang. In January, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the inclusion of Baseball5 as a sport on the next Youth Olympics, which were then scheduled for 2022 in Dakar, Senegal.

The WBSC launched the new five-on-five, five-inning street version of baseball/softball in March 2018 as a mixed-gender discipline.

President Riccardo Fraccari introduced the new discipline with these words: "This faster urban discipline will help drive baseball and softball to new places not possible before."

The WBSC President was not over-optimistic. By the time the IOC accepted the proposal of the Dakar 2022 Organizing Committee, Baseball5 had been introduced in 70 nations around the world.

World Cups

The WBSC was planning on the first-ever Baseball5 World Cup and Youth Baseball5 World Cup. The latter as a qualifier for the Youth Olympic Games. The tournaments were scheduled for December 2020.

The first continent to start the qualification process for the WBSC Baseball5 World Cup was Europe. France won the first-ever Baseball5 European Championship, defeating hosts Lithuania in the final series. Both National Teams qualified for the inaugural Baseball5 World Cup.

This happened before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe and the rest of the world.
The Baseball5 World Cups were initially postponed to June 2021.

The WBSC Executive Board decided later to reshape the Baseball5 international calendar. The Baseball5 World Cup will be played on even years starting 2022. The Baseball5 Youth World Cup, for the ages of 14-18, will be played on odd years starting 2023.

The IOC decided to postpone the Youth Olympics from 2022 to 2026 in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2025 Baseball5 Youth Baseball World Cup will therefore serve as a qualifier to the Games.

Growing Popularity

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic won't shadow the extraordinary achievement that the introduction of Baseball5 has been.

"I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and joy for what we have achieved," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. "Baseball5 has exploded everywhere in popularity, enhancing WBSC’s ability to do good around the world. We are now able to introduce the skills and the values of baseball-softball to young people in new communities we couldn’t reach before."

Fraccari added: "The fast-pace, low-cost and accessibility of the discipline is its greatest strength. All you need is a ball and a hard-surface. No dedicated sports equipment or venues are required to play, making Baseball5 a perfect fit for the IOC’s and President Bach’s innovative Agenda 2020 vision."

Rules Update

The WBSC has recently updated the Baseball5 Rulebook. The main Baseball5 rule change concerns hitting. A modification to the hitting rule now states that a batter/hitter has to raise "the hand he/she intends to use" while entering the batter's box. The ball "must be hit/slapped either with a palm or a fist" and have "enough momentum to reach the outfield fence" or, in the case of the U-15 category, "the outfield (passing the line that connects first-second-third base).

End of Year Review series

2020 - Softball: Olympic Softball architect Don Porter passes away; U-18 Men only World Cup played in disrupted year
2020 - Baseball: An international baseball season like no other
2020 - U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup: Japan wins lone global baseball/softball event in 2020
2020 - Development: Global baseball-softball development doesn’t stop amid global pandemic
2019 WBSC Congress one-year progress report: An unforgettable year in many ways
2019: Year in Review