President Fraccari: Exciting year ahead for global baseball and softball community

President Fraccari: Exciting year ahead for global baseball and softball community
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari looks forward to an exciting calendar for 2023 packed with international baseball, softball and Baseball5 action.

Looking forward to this year fills me with immense excitement and expectation. The year 2023 looks set to be an amazingly busy one with a full calendar of events and a complete return to competition normality.

It has been three years since the pandemic first appeared and this year, we celebrate a return to our full calendar, including new formats for our Women’s Softball and Women’s Baseball World Cups and the staging of three new events. 

The World Baseball Classic opens the 2023 international season in March followed by seven softball events, five baseball tournaments and the inaugural Baseball5 Youth World Cup while men's baseball and women's softball will also feature again on the programmes of the Asian Games and the Pan American Games. 

One of the major highlights of the year is the staging of the XVII Women's Softball World Cup, which will see the introduction of the WBSC’s new two-phase event, starting with the Group Stage. We awarded three European cities the right to host these stages - Ireland, Spain and Italy. Italy will host the final stage in 2024, which I have no doubt will be a fantastic event. 

Another key moment this year is the XI Women's Baseball World Cup, which will also take place with a two-phase approach, starting with the group stages – Group A in Thunder Bay, Canada and Group B in a host to be announced shortly.  

Meanwhile, Argentina is preparing to host the inaugural U-23 Men’s Softball World Cup in April and Japan will stage the first edition of the U-15 Women's Softball World Cup in October. 

While a decision was taken by the WBSC Executive Board to discontinue the U-12 Mixed Softball World Cup due to the effects of the pandemic on the event, the VII U-12 Baseball World Cup will continue to be one of the WBSC’s most popular tournaments, this year taking place again in Tainan’s impressive, dedicated stadium in Taiwan. 

Add in the U-18 Baseball World Cup and the U-18 Men's Softball World Cup and we have baseball and softball events for all age groups.

One of the WBSC’s latest disciplines Baseball5 is set for another explosive year. After last year’s successful Baseball5 World Cup in Mexico, we are excited at the prospect of the inaugural Youth Baseball5 World Cup, which will take place later this year and will offer a combination of sport and education in a festival setting to help inspire future generations.

And the same applies for eSport. Following a very impressive eSport 2022 season with the launch of the very first Virtual Cup, which became the most participated WBSC event in history, the WBSC and its partners plan to take this discipline to the next level this year with some very exciting announcements coming up. ESport is a key growth area for our organisation and the baseball and softball community and I’m looking forward to our members fully embracing this discipline, which will help engage new audiences and attract new participants.

As you can see, we have an action-packed year ahead of us and you can follow every step of the way on our new OTT channel GameTime, the event sites and WBSC social media channels. 

I know we will deliver some amazing events this year, all thanks to the amazing dedication and professionalism of our members, officials, staff, hosts and athletes and look forward to enjoying them alongside you all, especially our amazing fans around the world.

It’s GameTime!