2019: Men’s Softball WCH - Argentina clinch historic title as Europe hosts for first time

2019: Men’s Softball WCH - Argentina clinch historic title as Europe hosts for first time
The 2019 WBSC Men’s Men’s Softball World Championship was an unforgettable tournament, with a lot of first-times to remember. From 13-23 June, the top 16 national teams in the world competed in the Czech Republic "For the Title of World Champion" and delivered a unique softball experience to fans all around the world. Argentina claimed the world title for the first time.

In their 10th time of trying, Argentina shook the men's softball world by claiming the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship for the first time ever after beating Japan 3-2 in the 2019 final in Prague. Previously, the world No. 5 had a best finish of fourth in 2013 and 2017. The win in the Czech capital followed back-to-back U-19 World Championships titles in 2012 and 2014, with eight players repeating the title in youth and senior events.

"We've been working hard to achieve this," Argentine captain Bruno Motroni said. "We knocked on the door some times, we finished in fourth place twice, losing the chance to play the semi final, but finally we could do it. It was a dream tournament for us, we've been trying for a long time but finally, we're world champions."

Argentina became the fifth country to become world champions in the history of the Men’s Softball World Cup, and the first-ever Latin American nation to clinch a senior world title, both in men and women’s competitions. New Zealand is the most decorated men’s softball program in history, with six world championships (including three consecutive from 1996 to 2004). Canada, (4), USA (4) and Australia (1) are the other three winning-nations. You can find all WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship medallists here.

Argentina’s biggest media outlets, including Clarin, La Nación, Página/12, Infobae, Ole, ESPN Deportes, Fox Sports, TyC Sports and CNN Radio all reported on Argentina's triumph, pushing the news to millions of its viewers, listeners and readers. Sporting newspaper “Ole” featured the Argentina National Softball Team on the front page of its Monday edition. 

Hours following the conclusion of the Final in Prague, then President of Argentina, Mr. Mauricio Macri, tweeted: “Impressive, Argentina champion in softball! The immense effort you made paid off and today you’re the best in the world. Congratulations to the whole team!!”

The 16th edition of the Men’s Softball World Championship, the highest level of competition in this discipline, was organized in the beautiful Czech Republic, in the heart of Europe. In 53 years of history, it was the first time the Men’s Softball World Championship was held in the Old Continent, becoming the second softball global event (along with the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup) to be held in the five continents, highlighting men’s softball global reach.

During the pre-tournament press conference the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship new trophy and medals were presented. The new design of the trophy will remain the same for the future editions of the upcoming rebranded Men’s Softball World Cups, starting with the 2021 edition in New Zealand.  

The Opening Ceremony and the inaugural game were held on 13 June, in celebration of World Softball Day. “Today we celebrate the World Softball Day,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari in his opening speech. “And I can’t find a better way to do it than being here, in the heart of Europe, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, inaugurating a World Championship in front of a huge crowd of softball lovers”.

Svoboda Park in Prague, and Hippos Arena in Havlickuv Brod hosted the 72 games of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship 2019. Sixteen teams from all five Olympic continents were represented: Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, USA and Venezuela.

After 11 days of competition, Argentina was crowned World Champion for the first time in history in the senior event. In a thrilling final the South American nation defeated Japan, 3-2 in ten innings, in one of the most exciting games ever played in this tournament.

"We're very happy. Winning is not the most common result in sports, you usually lose more times than you win. So we are all feeling full happiness now," said Argentina’s Head Coach Julio Gamarci.  

Canada completed the podium after a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals New Zealand, in the bronze medal game. It was the first time since 1980 that New Zealand didn’t reach the final game of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship. The Black Sox played 10 finals in a row, from 1984 to 2017, winning their six world championships in that span.

You can see the final standings of the 16th Men’s Softball World Championship here.

The WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship 2019 also set historic records in terms of viewership and social media engagement, generating more than 12 million impressions and over 8 million video views across WBSC’s social media channels during the flagship men’s softball event.

During the event, the 272 participating athletes also elected the new Men’s Softball Athlete Representative. Motroni, the captain and catcher of the world champion Argentina National Softball Team, was elected by his peers with 53.92% of the votes cast. Motroni will serve alongside previously elected female softball player Erika Polidori from Canada on the highest Softball body within the WBSC.

After the tournament, two of the greatest softball players retired from the international game: New Zealander Nathan Nukunuku and Australian Andrew Kirkpatrick. Nukunuku retired after a 20-year career. The 39-year old infielder played 126 games for the Black Sox and won four World Championships. Kirkpatrick was a key member of the 2008 World Championship winning team, the only Men’s Softball World title so far for Australia.

The next edition of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup will be held in New Zealand in 2021.