Olympic Baseball Rewind - Atlanta 1996: Watch Japan and Cuba go for gold

Olympic Baseball Rewind - Atlanta 1996: Watch Japan and Cuba go for gold
Japan's roster had a mix of Industrial League veterans and young prospect to face baseball's international juggernaut of the time.

Japan and Cuba competed for a gold medal on 2 August 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics. This is what episode four of the Olympic Baseball Rewind series, presented in collaboration with the Olympic Channel, features.

Cuba went undefeated in group play and had come from behind to beat Nicaragua, 8-1, in the semifinal. Cuba had improved upon the stellar team of the 1992 Games, adding three young players on their course to international stardom: shortstop Eduardo Paret and pitchers Pedro Lazo and Jose Contreras, a future Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series winner.

Japan, after posting a 4-3 record during group play, had outscored hosts United States, 11-2, in the other semifinal. Manager Katsuji Kawashima had fielded a team made of experienced players of the domestic Industrial Leagues. The rosters also feature College prospects like infielder Makoto Imaoka (21, Toyo University), a future Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) All-Star, and infielder Tadahito Iguchi (21, Aoyama Gakuin University), who would go on to star at both the NPB and the MLB levels.

Omar Luis took the mound for Cuba and home plate umpire Anibal Rosario (Puerto Rico) called playball. In the bottom half of the frame, Japan handed the ball to Jutaro Kimura.

OLYMPIC Rewind-Baseball

The OLYMPIC Rewind-Softball series features past games from the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games.