President Fraccari: “2019 - The biggest year in int’l baseball, softball history”

President Fraccari: “2019 - The biggest year in int’l baseball, softball history”
16/12/2019
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari says a record 2019 sets the stage for greater success in 2020 in his end-of-the-year address.

World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari addressed baseball and softball leaders, players, media and fans around the world in the following end-of-the-year address:

Dear Baseball and Softball Leaders,WBSC Partners, Media Representatives and fans around the world:

This past year was the biggest year ever for the international game and National Team competitions, both from a historical point of view as well as from a total number of events point of view, with players taking away some of the best memories and experiences of their careers.

Over the last 12 months, the flagship Premier12, five World Cups and four dedicated qualifying tournaments for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were staged. This was the highest amount of demand ever placed on our international federation, and it was honour, duty and absolute pleasure to serve the National Federations, thousands of athletes as well as fans and media across the globe.

2019 Year in Review

 

While data and reports are still being gathered, it’s likely safe to say that last month’s WBSC Premier12 broke social media records as the most-engaging international baseball tournament ever staged. Samurai Japan, the “home team” of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, captured the Premier12 crown, underlining their ranking as the best National Team baseball programme in the world. While 2015 Premier12 champions Korea were not able to defend their crown, the 2008 Olympic Baseball champions were able to earn a ticket into the Tokyo 2020 tournament, where they will get the opportunity to defend the Olympic gold medal. Mexico’s Premier12 bronze medal win/first-ever Olympic qualification has been described by media as “the biggest win in Mexican baseball history.”

Mexico will also make their Olympic Softball debut at Tokyo 2020. Congratulations to USA Softball, Italian Baseball Softball Federation, Mexican Softball Federation, Softball Canada and Softball Australia for leading your country and athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Games through the various Olympic Baseball and Softball qualification tournaments throughout the year.

Not only was the Premier12’s successful built around the great play on the field but the new innovations, which WBSC introduced - such as a 40% increase in prize money, pitching and warm up clocks to speed up play and the video review system – all helped to produce a bigger and better entertainment package.

Congratulations must also go to the Argentina Softball Confederation if its team’s triumph at the 2019 WBSC Softball Men’s World Championship in the Czech Republic. This was another major success for the WBSC as softball continues to spread around the world. It was the first time the men’s showpiece event was staged in Europe.

In their 10th time of trying, Argentina shook the men's softball world by claiming the title in what I recognise as a great development path led by the Confederation. The win in Prague followed back-to-back U-19 World Championships titles in 2012 and 2014, with eight players repeating the title in youth and senior events.

I’m also very excited about the growth of our sport and how it is entering new countries. New venues are also being built to emphasize the popularity of our sport. No more than ever when I was honoured to open, alongside the mayor of Tainan Huang Wei-che, the Tainan Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium and Training Centers – a first-of-its-kind elite baseball facility designed specifically for players aged 12 and under - in Taiwan.

This is the finest dedicated youth sports facility in the world — not just for baseball and softball, but for any sport, and this further positions baseball and softball as one of the leading youth sports in the world. This sustainable, state-of-the-art facility will help turn our vision into reality.

The WBSC is the only international sports federation with World Cups starting at the under-12 level and the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup and the WBSC U-12 Mixed Softball World Cup were both a great success.

Initiatives likes these, coupled with the launch of a partnership with schools in Fukushima, Japan - to collect baseball and softball equipment and deliver it to developing baseball-softball nations worldwide - and the growth of new properties such as Baseball5, definitely help solidify our position in the global sports movement.

On behalf of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, I would like to thank and recognize all those who helped and contributed to the growth of baseball and softball around the world in 2019. Especially the seven new members who have recently joined the WBSC family, confirmed at the Congress in Sakai City last month. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to each of the new members and look forward to working together to leverage Baseball Softball's ever increasing level of popularity and using their experiences to help take our sport to places it has never been before.

I would also like to recognize our Local Organizing Committees, WBSC Board Members and Commissions, the Continental Confederations, the National Federations, the athletes, the coaches, the umpires and the WBSC office and staff for their tireless dedication to growing our sport around the world.

This record year -- 2019 -- sets the stage for bigger and better success for our sport in 2020.

Riccardo Fraccari WBSC President