James named Australian U-18 Women’s Softball Head Coach

James named Australian U-18 Women’s Softball Head Coach
Chantelle James will lead Australia in the first-ever WBSC U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup, to be held in Lima, Peru, from 21-30 August 2020

Softball Australia has announced Chantell James as the head coach of the Australia U-18 Women’s National Team and will lead the side during the inaugural WBSC World Cup 2020, slated to be played in Lima, Peru. James will aim to steer the Junior Spirit to a sixth medal in international competition to add to Australia’s swag of five bronze medals.

James has a wealth of experience in the international scene having filled numerous coaching positions with the Junior Spirit over the last decade, most recently batting coach during this year's WBSC U19 Women’s Softball World Cup in the United States where Australia finished fourth.

“Chantelle has been involved with the Junior Aussie Spirit program since 2011 and before joining the Junior Spirit staff she spent nine years involved with the International Friendship Series,” said Chet Gray, Chief Operating Officer at Softball Australia.

“We’re confident she’ll make a seamless transition into the head coach role and have our emerging Aussie Spirit stars at the peak of their powers for the upcoming WBSC U18 Women’s Softball World Cup in 2020,” added Gray.

The Australian squad will be selected following Australia's U18 Women’s National Championship to be held at Blacktown International Sportspark from 19-25 January, 2020.

USA Softball announces coaching staff for 2020 Women’s National Team

USA Softball announces coaching staff for 2020 Women’s National Team
Laura Berg, Howard Dobson, Tairia Flowers and Heather Tarr will join Ken Eriksen to manage the team in Tokyo 2020

USA Softball has announced the selection of Laura Berg, Howard Dobson, Tairia Flowers and Heather Tarr as Assistant Coaches for the 2020 USA Softball Women’s National Team. They will join Head Coach Ken Eriksen in leading the Women’s National Team next July at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan where the United States will look to reclaim the gold medal, which they won in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Japan beat USA in the 2008 Olympic final.

“Congratulations to all four coaches on this much-deserved selection as an Assistant Coach for our 2020 Women’s National Team,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer, Craig Cress. “Their qualifications alone speak volumes to their ability to lead and guide athletes in their journey to gold. It’s also extremely special for us to have two Olympians on our coaching staff who can share invaluable experience and knowledge on what the members of the 2020 team can expect.”

“Team USA is in great hands with our coaching staff heading into the training season and into the ‘Stand Beside Her’ tour,” said Women’s National Team Head Coach, Ken Eriksen. “The addition of assistant coaches Laura Berg, Howard Dobson, Tairia Flowers, and Heather Tarr is a bonus for our athletes. Their combined knowledge, experience, and communication abilities are a tremendous asset for our team in its efforts to get better every day. With Olympic Games experiences amongst the staff, I feel very honoured to have these four great people join us.”

Berg has been involved with USA Softball as both an athlete or coach since 1994. As a player, Berg is one of four women who hold three Olympic gold medals. Considered to be one of the greatest outfielders to ever play the game, Berg helped the United States to a gold medal at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games and also holds an Olympic silver medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In addition to competing in four Olympic Games, the National Softball Hall of Fame member also played in four World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championships and three Pan American Championships, all of which were gold medal finishes.

Dobson is making his ninth appearance as an Assistant Coach for the Women’s National Team program after serving on the coaching staff since 2012. In his tenure with USA Softball, Dobson has contributed to two WBSC World Championship gold medal finishes in addition to a gold medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

Flowers, a two-time Olympian, has been involved with USA Softball since 2001 both as a player and coach. As a player on the Women’s National Team, Flowers helped the United States to a perfect record and gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She also won gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 WBSC Women’s World Championships and the 2003 and 2007 Pan American Games.

In 2017, Tarr joined the USA Softball program as an Assistant Coach for the Women’s National Team and helped guide the 2017 roster to a gold medal finish at the Pan American Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Returning to the coaching staff in 2018, Tarr once again had a gold medal season with the WNT who captured a gold medal at the WBSC World Championship. In 2019, Tarr served as the Head Coach for a history-making U-19 Women’s National Team that earned a bronze medal at the USA Softball International Cup, the first for a Junior Women’s National Team program, and a gold medal finish at the WBSC U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup.

First-ever Baseball5 French Open to be held in Paris

First-ever Baseball5 French Open to be held in Paris
The French Open highlights a winter season full of Baseball5 events in France.

The French Baseball and Softball Federation (FFBS) is organizing the 1st Baseball5 French Open, to be held at l’Institut National du Sport, de l’Expertise et de la Performance (INSEP) in Paris from 18-19 January 2020.

The tournament is open to every player 16 years and older; each team must include six to eight players, with a minimum of three of each genre. Teams can register until 27 December, 2019.

The French Open will be played according to the Official WBSC Baseball5 Rules, available on the WBSC Baseball5 website.

The tournament is one of six events to be organized in France in the next four months, including the Open Baseball5 - Téléthon, Tiger 5, Winter Wisps Tournament, OSGOR Baseball Five Tower and Tournoi International de Paris (TIP) 2020, slated to be played from 30-31 May.

In addition, the first European Baseball5 Championship will be held in Lithuania from 28 February to 1 March, serving as a qualifing event for the first-ever Baseball5 World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico (dates to be announced).

Laos opens first baseball stadium, launches new National League

Laos opens first baseball stadium, launches new National League
The new Laos Baseball league is being held between November 16 and January 11 at Sapphavisa Stadium in the Laos capital Vientiane.

With the dust settling on a stunning 2019 edition of the WBSC Premier12, which saw two Asian nations contest the final - world No. 1 Japan beating Korea, ranked third in the world - baseball's popularity across Asia continues to spread with Laos due to open its first ever baseball venue, the Sapphavisa Stadium, in the capital city Vientiane in December.

In a move to enhance awareness of the sport, the Southeast Asian country has also launched its first professional baseball league competition. Called the “1st KOICA Cup Lao Baseball League,” it is supported by South Korea’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The Laos Baseball Federation also plans to hold an international baseball league to celebrate the opening of the stadium by inviting teams from a total of five Southeast Asian countries.

Baseball was introduced to the country in 2012 by Je Sung-uk, who organized the first workouts at one of the car parks in Vientiane. According to the Laotian Times, 100 players are now involved in the project.

Je Sung-uk received fundamental support by Lee Man-soo, a former gold glove catcher and MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League. Lee set up a foundation to support baseball in Laos and donated baseball equipment worth US$8,800.

The Laos Baseball Federation, supported by the government, was founded in 2018. Khamphay Sisavanh is the Federation President.

Lee was instrumental in connecting the Laos Baseball Federation to the DGB Financial Group, that supported the construction of the baseball stadium with a grant of US$256,200.

The first Laos Baseball National Team participated in the Asian Games 2018. Kwon Young-jin, a former coach and supervisor at South Korea’s Daegu High School baseball team, is currently the manager.

Lee Man-soo, who is now serving as the Laos Baseball Federation Vice President, and Je Sung-uk, currently serving as a foreign cooperation director representative of the national baseball team of Laos in the federation, recently met with WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Laos Women's Baseball National Team was playing friendly games.

"I must commend Lee Man Soo and Je Sung Luk for their commitment and dedication to the promotion and development of baseball in Laos, not only finding time, sponsors but also contributing personal funds," Ms Choo Low said.

Softball Canada names preliminary rosters for 2020 season

Softball Canada names preliminary rosters for 2020 season
“A lot of hard work went into preparing for the 2019 season, however, the next eight months will define how we will be remembered in Canadian softball history,” said Mark Smith, Women’s National Team Head Coach.

Softball Canada has announced the lists of athletes for the Women and Men’s National Teams in 2020. The Women’s National Team will try to win their first-ever Olympic medal in Tokyo 2020. The Men’s team will be focused on the Pan American Championship, which is a qualifier for the WBSC Softball World Cup 2021.

Canada Women’s National Team

A total of 21 athletes have been named to the Women’s National Team Athlete Pool for the 2020 season. These athletes are currently training full time and will compete at various events leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The list includes the 15 players that earned the Olympic berth at the WBSC Americas Softball Qualifier.

“It is nice to have the Olympic qualification behind us and to be able to shift our focus to prepare for the Olympic Games” stated Mark Smith, Softball Canada’s High Performance Director and Head Coach of the Women’s National Team program. “A lot of hard work went into preparing for the 2019 season, however, the next eight months will define how we will be remembered in Canadian softball history.”

Canada had a very successful 2019 season, winning the gold medal at the Canada Cup, the silver medal at the Pan American Games, in addition to qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Canada Men’s National Team

Canada also unveiled the list of 44 athletes who have been named to its 2020 Men’s National Team Athlete Pool.

The Athlete Pool includes 15 players from the 2019 World Championship Team, and eight new members to the Athlete Pool.

The Canadian Men’s National Team won a bronze medal at the 2019 WBSC World Championship this summer in the Czech Republic.

Their focus in 2020 will be on the WBSC Americas Men’s Pan American Championship, which will act as a qualifier the 2021 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup - due take place in Auckland, New Zealand.

Harrow confirmed as Softball Australia Head Coach for Tokyo 2020

Harrow confirmed as Softball Australia Head Coach for Tokyo 2020
Laing Harrow qualified the team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games going undefeated to win the WBSC Asia/Oceania Qualifier in September.

Laing Harrow was confirmed as the Head Coach of the Australia Softball National Team for Tokyo 2020 and beyond after he agreed to a new contract with Softball Australia. Harrow’s official position under the new contract is High-Performance Pathway and Head Coach of the Travelodge Aussie Spirit in a multi-year deal which extends beyond the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Since his original appointment as Head Coach in 2018, Harrow steered the Australian women’s team to fourth place in the Japan Cup, a semi-final appearance in the Asia Pacific Cup and also coached the Aussie Peppers of Minnesota in the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch season.

Harrow’s best achievement to date with the team undoubtedly came at the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier, where Australia went undefeated in five games, scoring 37 runs and allowing just four against with no errors recorded in the field. The dominant performance locked up the final spot available at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“To qualify back into the Olympics is a great achievement, but I go back the other way and seeing where we've come from as a team has been just as impressive,” said Harrow.

“To look at the improvements the girls have made individually and as a team in a year is very pleasing and they're are enjoying being around each other and enjoying just playing softball.

“And from that, we’re playing at a really high level.”

Early in 2020, Australia will host one more time the Asia Pacific Cup at Blacktown from 30 January to 2 February, ahead of the exciting Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball from 3 – 5 February.

Australia has won an Olympic medal in each of the previous four Softball Olympic competitions, eaning a silver medal in Athens 2004, and bronze medals in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008.

USA Women's Softball and Puerto Rico Men's Baseball teams nominated for Panam Sports Awards 2019

USA Women's Softball and Puerto Rico Men's Baseball teams nominated for Panam Sports Awards 2019
USA Women's Softball is nominated as Best Women's Team at Lima 2019, while Puerto Rico Men's Baseball is in contention for the Best Men's Team award at the 2019 Pan American Games.

The USA Women’s Softball National Team and the Puerto Rican Men’s Baseball National Team have been nominated by Panam Sports for the first-ever Panam Sports Awards, in the Women’s Team category and Men’s Team category respectively. Fans can vote for their choice at www.panamsports.org/vote now through 30 November.

Celebrating the best performances and moments of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, the Panam Sports Award includes nine different categories: Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete, Best Men’s Team, Best Women’s Team, Nextgen (Male U-20), Nextgen (Female U-20), Best Coach, Panam Sports Value Award and Changemaker.

Panam Sports has launched an easily accessible portal through its website where sports fans, National Olympic Committees, media and even the athletes themselves can vote for who they think made the biggest impact at Lima 2019.

Following a gold medal performance at the 2018 WBSC Women's Softball World Championships, the U.S. Women’s Softball National Team captured its ninth Pan American Games title while going 7-1 and outscoring opponents 45-6. USA competes with Argentina’s Field Hockey, Canada’s Artistic Swimming, and Brazil’s Handball squads for the Best Women’s Team award.

The Puerto Rico Men's Baseball National Team made history in Lima, claiming the nation’s first-ever Pan American Games gold medal. It was only the second final for Puerto Rico, after earning the silver medal in Chicago 1959. In 2018, Puerto Rico won the Central American and Caribbean Games gold medal in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Ayako Rokkaku on the growth of Women's Baseball in Japan

Ayako Rokkaku on the growth of Women's Baseball in Japan
The former World Cup MVP at age 28 is still involved as a player. She is also a certified WBSC Baseball5 instructor.

The WBSC's flagship event - the Premier12 - saw world No. 1 Japan take the honors after beating Korea in a thrilling final on November 17. Great crowds, fan engagement and entertainment featured throughout as the best 12 teams in international men's baseball took part in the Global Baseball Battle. And former Japan women's national team member Ayako Rokkaku - a four-time Women's Baseball World Cup winner - said it wasn't just men's baseball which stands to benefit.

"I liked the WBSC Premier12 very much. It was a very good tournament," Rokkaku said. "Having the 12 best National Programmes in the world compete together created a lot of anticipation. I am Japanese and seeing how many great players accepted to represent our country really got me excited. I tried to look at the Premier12 from the point of view of the player, to understand how these great athletes managed to keep their condition for the duration of the tournament."

Women's Baseball in Japan is on the growth path. The four-team Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL), formerly known as Girls Professional Baseball League (GPBL) has attracted interest since 2009.

"Women's Baseball in Japan is really growing," Rukkako confirmed. "Now we have around 2,000 players. I believe 10 years ago we didn't have more than 500.

"I started playing baseball because my brother played. I used to spend a lot of time together with him, so I started playing as well and the game inspired me. I think this development is pretty common in Japan."

At 28 years of age Rokkaku is a global star of women's baseball. She helped Japan win four Women's Baseball World Cups: 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, winning MVP honors in 2010. She featured as the guest presenter for the drawing of lots for the Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier and the Baseball Final Qualifier on the eve of the 3rd WBSC Congress last week.

She was also a guest presenter at the Baseball5 Workshop, which was also held on the sidelines of the WBSC Congress. The enthusiasm of Rokkaku about the WBSC's new discipline proved contagious. She was speaking through a translator, but the tone of her voice could not be mistaken. Rokkaku believed in what she was saying: "Baseball5 offers a great way to teach inclusion. I also believe, as a player, that Baseball5 offers a very good training opportunity."

That's great to hear from someone who is likely to be heavily involved when Baseball5 makes a guest appearance during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Tokyo 2020: Two Baseball spots still up for grabs

Tokyo 2020: Two Baseball spots still up for grabs
Korea and Mexico qualified via the Premier12 to join the hosts Japan and Israel. Two more national teams will qualify via the two remaining Olympic qualification tournaments in March and April.

The recently completed 2019 edition of the Premier12 qualified two national teams to the baseball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Korea and Mexico.

Korea, the defending champions, earned the right to defend their Olympic title after beating Mexico on Day 4 of the Super Round. The win allowed Korea to advance to the final against Japan, who had already qualified for the Olympics as the host nation, therefore guaranteeing Korea an Olympic ticket as the highest ranked team from Asia/Oceania.

Meanwhile, Mexico's Olympic ticket was secured on the final day when they defeated USA in the bronze-medal game, thus earning an Olympic spot for first time as the highest ranked team from the Americas.

The total number of teams participating in the baseball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games numbers six with four teams - Japan, Israel, Korea and Mexico - having qualified to date. Israel booked their Olympic ticket in September as the winner of the Europe/Africa Qualifier, played in Parma and Bologna, Italy.

Two more national teams will qualify for the baseball tournament of the XXXII Olympiad in early 2020.

The Qualifier of the Americas, to be played in Arizona (USA) from 22 to 26 March 2020, will grant one spot. Eight national teams will be split into two groups and the top two of each group will compete in the Super Round, from which the winner will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

These are the participants:

Group A: World No. 2 USA, No. 11 Puerto Rico, No. 12 Dominican Republic, No. 15 Nicaragua

Group B: No. 5 Cuba, No. 9 Venezuela, No. 10 Canada, No. 14 Colombia

The second and third-place finishers of the Americas Qualifier will join the Netherlands (the runner-up at the Europe/Africa Qualifier), Chinese Taipei, China (the winner and third placed team at the Asia Baseball Championship) and the winner of the Oceania Pre Qualifier, to be played between the second half of January and the first half of February 2020, in the Final Qualifier, which will be played in Chinese Taipei (Taichung and Dou Liou) from 1 to 5 April 2020.

The winner of the six-team tournament will earn the sixth and final spot in the baseball tournament of the 2020 Olympics.

The Softball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has already completed its qualification process with the following six teams qualified: the hosts Japan, USA, Mexico, Canada, Italy and Australia.

III WBSC Congress showcases baseball, softball as true global sport, says President Fraccari

III WBSC Congress showcases baseball, softball as true global sport, says President Fraccari
Following the first-ever WBSC Congress in Tunisia in 2014 and the second in Botswana in 2017, World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fracarri looks back at a successful third Congress for the WBSC, which was held in Sakai City, Japan from November 19-21.

"I am very pleased to say the third WBSC Congress in the city of Sakai, Japan was an overwhelming success with a great number of important contributions from the members and the international baseball and softball community.

Having our members under the same roof at this very important time, provides the perfect platform for discussion, engagement and a sharing of ideas. We held for the first time Open Workshops on the eve of the Congress. It was all about empowering the federations and I’m very pleased to say there was tremendous interest. WBSC wants to make sure the national federations have the right tools to be able to help grow the game of baseball and softball in their regions.

The key role of the international sports governing body is also to make sure all its members have equal opportunities to organise tournaments, grow their player base and develop sport. I’m proud to say WBSC is on the right track. We had a record number of events (17) in 2018 and 2019.

One of our major objectives is to globalise our sport. International competitions help in this process, especially events like the Premier12, which finished last week in Tokyo. Congratulations to the Samurai Japan players, the Baseball Federation of Japan and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for winning the Premier12, which reached millions of views and helped drive in new fans all around the world.

I’m also proud that our Executive Committee also confirmed Peru as the host of the first-ever U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup next year, as well as three tournaments in Mexico and two key events in Taiwan, including the 2021 Congress, which was subsequently approved by the Congress.

Looking ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, being the first event to be played at the Games definitely illustrates the popularity of our sport. Baseball and softball will be some of the biggest properties at Tokyo 2020, and with the expected sold-out crowds, we will have another great opportunity to put our sport in the spotlight and showcase to the International Olympic Committee the added value our sport brings to the Games. We will also be giving the chance to the public to have a close-up experience of our wonderful sport with Baseball5 on location as a demonstration sport.
Baseball5 is one of our key vehicles that can potentially help us grow our sport and reach new participants, particularly where our traditional game has faced challenges. Many countries are embracing this new discipline and I thought Cameron Vale, the CEO of Baseball Australia gave an excellent account of how Baseball5 can help a federation during the pre-Congress workshops.

That is also why the Development Commission has allocated a significant budget resource to Baseball5, to continue its exceptional growth. And as I said during the Congress, Continental Confederations are also key to growth and that is why they will be more closely involved, working hand in hand with the WBSC office to take advantage of development opportunities.
Further evidence of the development of our sport was the addition of seven new federations to the WBSC family:

  • Bermuda Baseball Federation
  • Laos Baseball Federation
  • Benin Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Bangladesh Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Palestine Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Egypt Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Kosovo Baseball & Softball Federation

It’s important that we continue to grow and welcome new members. We as a family can help these new members grow and they can also bring their own experiences to the table and help the WBSC family develop.

Also, we have to recognise our history and the very important people who have contributed to WBSC’s wonderful story, so it was my great pleasure present the Collar of Honour to Mr Ryozo Kato and Mr Katsuhiko Kumazaki, and, for the first time in WBSC history, the Golden Diamond to Mr Dale McMann.

It was also an honour to be able to welcome such a baseball legend as Sadaharu Oh as well as our guests from the Fukushima Prefecture, Yokohama City and Ehime Prefecture.

My thanks also go to the City of Sakai, the Baseball Federation of Japan and the Japan Softball Association for their great support of the WBSC and in particular this third edition of the WBSC Congress.

Already, I am looking forward to the next WBSC Congress in Taipei City in 2021 and with World Cups of various age groups and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as major events on the horizon, we have definitely got plenty of opportunities to help with our mission to globalise our sport."

Key news articles from the WBSC Congress:

WBSC presents Individual Awards 2018, 2019

WBSC presents Individual Awards 2018, 2019
The ceremony happened during the Gala Dinner, hosted by long-time WBSC partner SSK

The WBSC presented its Individual Awards for 2018 and 2019 during the gala dinner hosted by long-time WBSC partner SSK that closed the 2019 Congress.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari presented the awards to the Federations of the Year.

The baseball Federation of 2018 was Colombia (Federación Colombiana de BéIsbol).
The baseball Federation of 2019 was Chinese Taipei (Chinese Taipei Baseball Association)-

The softball Federation of 2018 was Mexico (Federación Méxicana de Softbol).
The softball Federation of 2019 was China (Chinese Softball Association).

WBSC Vice President Willy Kaltschmitt presented the awards to the baseball coaches.

The baseball coach of 2018 was Megumi Kitta, the manager of Madonna Japan, the Japanese Women's Baseball National Team.
The baseball coach of 2019 was Tsung Chih-Chou, the manager of the World Champion U-18 Chinese Taipei National Team.

WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low presented the awards to the baseball umpires of the year.

The baseball umpire of 2018 was Kevin Sweeney (USA).
The baseball umpire of 2019 was Erwin Zambrano (Mexico)

WBSC Executive Board Member Beatrice Allen presented the awards to the baseball athletes of the year.

The baseball athlete of 2018 was Cody Schrier, a star middle infielder on the World Champion USA U-15 National Team.
The baseball athlete of 2019 was Robert Hassell, a star outfielder on the USA National Team, runner up at the U-18 Baseball World Cup.

WBSC Scoring Commission President Anna Maria Paini presented the Awards to the scorers of the year.

The 2018 scorer of the year was Linda Steijger (The Netherlands), for her support in drafting the Scorer's Manual.
The 2019 scorer of the year was Jeannie Moloney (AUS), for her support in the global effort of scorers.

WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez presented the individual awards to softball coaches, umpires and athletes.

The softball coach of 2018 was Kenneth Scott Eriksen, the manager of the World Champion USA Women's National Team.
The softball coach of 2019 was Julio Ismael Gamarci, the manager of the World Champion Argentina Men's National Team.

The softball umpire of 2018 was Kyira Cox (Australia). She worked the gold medal game of the Women's World Cup 2018. She showed tremendous improvement, she had the highest point score amongst umpires.
The softball umpire of 2019 was David Selden III (USA). He worked as the home plate umpire in the U-19 Men's World Cup 2018 and in the Men's World Cup 2019. A very strong umpire who is dedicated to the game.

The softball athlete of 2018 was Haylie Ann Mc Cleney, the best player of the Women's Softball World Cup 2018.
The softball athlete of 2019 was Hikaru Matsuda, the best player of the Men's Softball World Cup 2019.

Seven new members join WBSC family

Seven new members join WBSC family
The 3rd WBSC Congress in Sakai, Japan was hailed as a great success with new federations welcomed to the WBSC family and honours presented to some of the major stars of WBSC and the international baseball and softball community.

The WBSC welcomed seven new members to its family during a dynamic 3rd World Congress held in Sakai, Japan on Thursday.

The new members (listed below) were unanimously voted in by the WBSC Congress, bringing the total number of WBSC member federations to 198 plus 13 associate members:

Bermuda Baseball
Laos Baseball
Benin Baseball & Softball
Bangladesh Baseball & Softball
Palestine Baseball & Softball
Egypt Baseball & Softball
Kosovo Baseball & Softball

The Nauru Federation was earlier elected out of the office following a recommendation by their NOC on the grounds of inactivity.

A total of 330 delegates representing 138 member organizations (including associate members) from 97 countries and regions attended the 2019 WBSC Congress, which received a presentation from the Italian Association Baseball Played By The Blind providing federations with a Paralympic opportunity going forward. WBSC also offered to support any federations willing to proceed in this direction.

The WBSC Congress finished with its Annual Awards.

WBSC Softball Hall of Fame inducts 2019 class

WBSC Softball Hall of Fame inducts 2019 class
A total of 13 players from eight countries were inducted into the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame now counts with 249 members from 38 countries

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced today the list of 23 new members of the Softball Hall of Fame, inducted today at the 3rd Congress in Sakai, Japan. The 2019 class includes 13 players, 3 umpires, 3 administrators, 3 meritorious service, and 1 coach Three countries inducted their first-ever hall of famer.

The list of new members of the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame is.

  • Argentina - Luis Candelario Rosales (Player)
  • Argentina - Oscar Bolzan (Player)
  • Australia - Tanya Harding (Player)
  • Australia - Fiona Crawford (Player)
  • Brazil - Milton Konno (Meritorious Service)
  • Brazil - Taketomi Higashi (Meritorious Service)
  • Canada - Melanie Mathews (Player)
  • Canada - Kevin Quinn (Administrator)
  • China - Lui Yaming (Coach)
  • China - Yan Fang (Player)
  • Colombia - Maria Teresa Mejia Mora (Umpire)
  • Costa Rica - Roberto Castro (Administrator)
  • Guatemala - Gerardo Aguirre (Administrator)
  • Japan - Haruka Saito (Player)
  • Japan - Tomoaki Okamoto (Player)
  • Japan - Juri Takayama (Player)
  • New Zealand - Nardi Leonard (Player)
  • New Zealand - Bill Massey (Player)
  • New Zealand - Wiremu Tamaki (Umpire)
  • Panama - Hector Avila (Player)
  • Peru - Marisa Matsuda (Meritorious Service)
  • Chinese Taipei - Chin-Ling Chang Chien (Player)
  • USA - Julie Johnson (Umpire)

Sadaharu Oh announces 2020 Girl's Baseball clinic

Sadaharu Oh announces 2020 Girl's Baseball clinic
The World Children Baseball Fair Foundation presented the project during the WBSC Congress. It will involve 50 players from 10 different countries and 30 from Japan

Japan's baseball legend Sadaharu Oh unveiled to the WBSC Congress on Thursday that the World Children's Baseball Fair will be a girls edition only in 2020.

Oh, who holds the world lifetime home run record, having hit 868 home runs during his professional career, then announced the goal of the World Children's Baseball Fair Foundation for 2020. "We will invite to Narita City, in association with WBSC, 50 girls from 10 countries and regions: Canada, France, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Japan, Peru, Ireland, Indonesia, USA and Korea".

The clinic will be hosted by the Japan Amateur Baseball Association and will have the support of the Japanese Government. The Baseball Federation of Japan, the All Japan University Baseball Federation, Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball will offer their cooperation.

The Girl's Baseball Clinic will also involve 30 Japanese players. It will include cultural and recreational activities. "The Olympics will happen in the same month of August in Tokyo, so 2020 is going to be a very special year for baseball and softball in Japan," commented Oh.

The World Children Baseball Fair was established in August 1992. "The American Baseball superstar Hank Aaron and I met at a home run contest," said Oh through an interpreter. "I beat him. We then performed together on a commercial and we became good friends. We agreed to cooperate with each other to introduce baseball to the younger generation. The sport had given each of us such wonderful experiences. This was the start of the World Children's Baseball Fair."

"My first idea was to hold small baseball clinics for the children. The Fair has greatly exceeded my imagination, becoming an international event."

Over 200 boys and girls from more than 20 nations or regions are invited to each Fair.
"We invite kids that are 10, 11 years old. Maybe they will be important players, maybe not," said Oh. "They come here from other countries and they experience Japan. It's a great learning experience. They will understand that where they live is not the whole world."

"The point," added Oh, "is not to teach these children how to win. The point is to have them enjoy baseball, have fun. Through baseball, they can learn how important is to exercise, for their body and their mind."

On a final note, Sadaharu Oh congratulated WBSC for the success of the second Premier12.

Kato, Kumazaki receive WBSC Order of the Honour Award, McMann accepts Order of the Golden Diamond

Kato, Kumazaki receive WBSC Order of the Honour Award, McMann accepts Order of the Golden Diamond
The Order of Honour represents the supreme honour awarded by WBSC. The Order of the Golden Diamond awards those persons who have acted in such a way as to develop the ideals of baseball/softball and their outstanding merits in favour of the widening of the horizons and innovation and research within our Sport

As a tradition, the WBSC recognise those people that contributed to the development and to the foundation of the World Baseball Softball. For this Congress WBSC awarded the Order of the Honour Award and, for the first time, the Order of the Golden Diamond.

The Order of the Honour Award was presented to Mr Ryozo Kato and Mr Katsuhiko Kumazaki, while the Order of the Golden Diamond was awarded to Mr Dale McMann.

Order of the Honour Award

The WBSC Order of Honour represents the supreme honour awarded to those persons who have acted in such a way as to illustrate the ideals of baseball/softball and their outstanding merits in favour of the development of our sport and who have rendered exceptional services to baseball/softball. Previously, Mr Reynaldo Gonzalez Lopez and Mr Don Porter received this distinction.

Ryozo Kato is a Japanese lawyer and career diplomat who served as the Japanese Ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2008. He also served as the Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball. He was instrumental in introducing NPB to international baseball, as well as hosted the 2013 IBAF Congress.

The commissioner for the Nippon Professional Baseball league, Katsuhiko Kumazaki has served as the Commissioner of Baseball (NPB) since 2014. He was a key figure in started the operations of the Premier12 and its continued success. He has been key figure in the return of baseball to the 2020 Olympics.

Order of the Golden Diamond

The WBSC Order of the Golden Diamond awards those persons who have acted in such a way as to develop the ideals of baseball/softball and their outstanding merits in favour of the widening of the horizons and innovation and research within our Sport. This is the first time WBSC present this honour.

Dale McMann involvement in sport is extensive. He served as president of Softball British Columbia between 1986 and 1990 and Softball Canada from 1990 to 2001. He first joined the International Softball Federation (ISF) in 1993 and served as North American vice-president of the federation until 2009, when he was elected as first vice-president.  Mr. McMann was appointed President of the ISF in 2013 and served from 2013 to 2017 and a was at the helm during the critical years of the merger of baseball and softball along with initiating a strategic planning of new ideas the future of our sport.