WBSC Timeline

After a history spanning 75 years, the International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation joined together to create the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) - the world governing body of baseball and softball.

Presidents Riccardo Fraccari (IBAF) and Don Porter (ISF) announced the merger on 14 April 2013 after signing the new body’s constitution at a news conference during the IBAF congress at a Tokyo Hotel. Fraccari and Porter sat on the Committee that picked the name of the new organisation. The World Baseball Softball Confederation was a legitimate compromise between the proposal by ISF (ICSB, International Confederation Softball Baseball) and IBAF (IBSF, International Baseball Softball Confederation).

The historic inaugural Congress of the WBSC took place in May 2014. Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee President, wrote in a message: “This historic inaugural Congress reflects the efforts and the changes of recent years…we are very pleased to see that the National Federations are following the updated structure and the new direction of the WBSC.”

Six years later and the WBSC opened its new, permanent headquarters in Pully, Switzerland to stay close to IOC and the Olympic Movement.

WBSC Headquarters

Leslie Mann, nicknamed “The Major”, is the father of international baseball. A former MLB player, Mann dreamed about seeing baseball in the Olympics.

The days of professional players in the Olympic Games were yet to come, so Mann put together two teams (World Champions and US Olympics) to play a demonstration game at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Mann himself umpired the game.

During the Games, Mann proposed the idea of an International Baseball Federation to the delegates of the 21 participating Nations. He was representing USA. England, France, Canada, Cuba and Hawaii (not yet a US territory) responded with enthusiasm.

The International Baseball Federation (IBF) was born in 1938. Mexico, Spain, Egypt, China, Japan, Peru, Philippines, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany joined the founding Nations. Leslie Mann was elected the first President.

France, The Netherlands and Hawaii played during the Paris 1937 World Exhibition a tournament that went into the record books as the first ever international baseball event.

The IBF President became aware of the existence of a successful National Baseball Association in England, supported by businessman and philanthropist John Moores. He made contact with Moores through the US National League President John Heydler and agreed on selecting a USA National Team and travel to Europe for a five-game series.

Mann was disappointed by the result, England defeated the USA 4 games to 1, but was enthusiastic about the crowds that the games had attracted. The series became the John Moores Trophy and would later be considered the first edition of the Amateur World Series, later to become the Baseball World Cup.

Jaime Mariné, the former President of the Direccion Naciónal de Deportes in Cuba, succeeded Mann as the IBF President and took the Amateur World Series to his home country.

Jorge Reyes of Mexico succeeded Mariné in 1944 and changed the name of the organisation into FIBA (Federación Internacional Beisbol Amateur).

The Amateur World Series didn’t become a real international tournament until 1969 when USA returned to the competition. The championship game that Cuba won against the United States was the peak of 15 years of activism that began in 1953 with the election of Carlos Zecca of Costa Rica as FIBA President.

Baseball became a demonstration sport at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Rod Dedeaux, who would become legendary as a coach in USA College Baseball, and Nobuo Fujita, the director of a six-team University League in Japan, started the USA vs Japan Collegiate All-Star Series that stands to this day.

Juan Isa of the Netherlands Antilles succeeded Zecca and helped the Amateur World Series become a World Championship.

Italy and the Netherlands took Europe to the world stage in 1970 in Colombia. Canada also made its debut. Japan became the first Asian Country to participate in 1972 in Nicaragua.

Baseball also had two governing bodies acting at the same time. A total of 27 Countries, representing three Continents, left FIBA in 1973 to join FEMBA (Federacion Mundial de Béisbol Amateur). The two bodies would merge in 1976 into AINBA (Associación Internacional Béisbol Amateur).

AINBA Meeting at Dodgers Stadium 1976

Baseball was ready to leave the Americas. Italy hosted the 1978 World Championship and AINBA took it to Japan in 1980. Korea hosted the tournament in 1982 and Korea became the first non-American country to win the Baseball World Championship.

International success was the key that opened the door to the Olympics. Baseball became a demonstration sport in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and went back with the same status in 1988 in Seoul. Baseball became a medal sport officially in Barcelona in 1992.

Robert Smith, USA, the President who led baseball into the Olympics changed the name of the world governing body into IBA, International Baseball Association.

Aldo Notari of Italy succeeded Smith. He changed the name of the organisation to IBAF and re-named the World Championship IBAF World Cup before the 2001 edition, the first played by professional players. Notari suffered the exclusion of baseball from the Olympic programme in 2005.

The merger between the International Federations that gave birth to WBSC was instrumental to bringing baseball and softball back to the Olympic Programme.

The International Softball Federation (ISF) was conceived by Nick Barack, the President of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA, now USA Softball) during the 1950 Commissioner's Council meeting. At the time 250,000 softball teams were active in the US and Canada, with players registration approaching one million.

"Approval was received so that we may now organize National Federations in various countries," wrote Barack to ASA Commissioners. "From these National Federations will come an International Softball Federation which will be the representative body of Nations in the Olympic and Pan American competition."

Barack became in 1952 the interim President of an International Federation that counted as members the ASA, the Canadian Softball Association and the Confederation Deportiva Mexicana. Japan joined soon after and Australia became a member in 1953.

The ISF was merely an office in the ASA headquarters in New Jersey when Don Porter joined the organization as an assistant to Executive Director Gene Martin in 1962.

Porter took the Executive Director's job after Martin passed away three months later. During the ASA National Championship 1963 in Standford, Connecticut, Porter met the Vice President of the Japan Softball Association Jiro Iwano and three representatives of the Australian Women's Softball Council: Merle Short, Esther Deason and Marjorie Dwyer. Australia had discussed with South African Softball President Jan Crafford the idea of a Women's World Championship.

Australia eventually hosted the first Women's Softball World Championship in 1965 in Melbourne. Before the tournament, the ISF elected its first Board of Directors. Bill Kethan was the first President and Porter the first Secretary-General. One of the first acts by the new board was handing the hosting rights of the Men's Softball World Championship to Mexico.

The first-ever Women’s Softball World Championship was played in 1965

The first Men's World Championship was played in 1966. The ASA and the ISF moved their headquarters to Oklahoma City the same year.

The ISF wouldn't have its own headquarters until 2000, when the body moved to Plant City, Florida. By that time, Porter had become the president of the organization. His tenure as the ASA Executive Director had ended in 1997.

The ISF entered the third millenium celebrating its 100th member federation.

After the merger between the ISF and IBAF in 2013, the WBSC Softball Division headquarters was in Plant City until the end of 2019.

WBSC Congresses

  1. Hammamet, Tunisia (2014)
  2. Gaborone, Botswana (2017)
  3. Sakai City, Japan (2019)

WBSC President

2013-2014 (Co-Presidents) Riccardo Fraccari (ITA),Don Porter (USA)
Riccardo Fraccari (ITA)

IBAF Presidents

1938-1939 Leslie Mann (USA)
1940-1943 Jaime Mariné (CUB)
1944-1945 Jorge Reyes (MEX)
1946-1947 Pablo Morales (VEN)
1948-1950 Chale Pereira (NCA
1951-1952 Pablo Morales (VEN)
1953-1968 Carlos M. Zecca (CRC)
1969-1975 Juan Isa (NED)
1976-1979 Manuel Gonzales Guerra (CUB)
1980-1981 Carlos J. García (NCA) – Robert E. Smith (USA) as acting president
1981-1993 Robert E. Smith (USA)
1993-2006 Aldo Notari (ITA)
2007-2009 Harvey Schiller (USA)
2009-2014 Riccardo Fraccari (ITA)

1973-1974 William Fehring (USA)
1975 Carlos J. García (NCA)

The International Baseball Federation (IBF) was born in 1938. The name changed into Federación International de Béisbol Amateur (FIBA) in 1944. The alternative Federación Mundial de Béisbol Amateur (FEMBA) was born in 1973 as an initiative by Europe and North America to oppose the Caribbean countries, led by Cuba, who were managing international baseball. When FEMBA and FIBA merged in 1976, the new governing body was named Asociación Internacional de Béisbol Amateur (AINBA). The name changed again to International Baseball Association (IBA) in 1984 and to the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) in 2000.

ISF Presidents

Nick Barack (USA) was the interim President of the ISF as the serving President of the Amateur Softball Association (today USA Softball) from 1952 to 1965.

Bill Kethan (USA) won the first elections in 1965 and served until 1987

1956-1987 Bill Kethan (USA)
1987-2013 Don Porter (USA)
2013-2017 Dale McMann (CAN)