The ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia
, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin
founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC
) in 1894
. The IOC has since become the governing body of the Olympic
Movement, whose structure and actions are defined by the Olympic Charter
has in fact chased an Olympic Dream from the beginning. Legend tells that during the 1894 Games
in Athens (the first of the modern era) top USA runner Thomas Curtis
gave a demonstration of the game of baseball
to King George I
. Curtis, trying to hit an orange with a stick, ended up spilling some juice on His Majesty’s clothes.
The first attempt to have baseball
become an Olympic
Sport was made 6 years later. The 1900
were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in Paris
, France. No opening or closing ceremonies were held; competitions began on May 14
and ended on October 28
. Baseball was not admitted (cricket and basque pelota were preferred).
made its debut at the 1904
, an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri
, in the United States from July 1
to November 23
at what is now known as 'Francis Field' on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.
St. Louis organizers repeated the mistakes made at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. Competitions were reduced to a side-show of the World's Fair and were lost in the chaos of other, more popular cultural exhibits.
was featured as a demonstration
sport (A demonstration sport
is a sport which is played to promote itself, most commonly during the Olympic Games;
actually no demonstration sport was admitted until 1912).
In 1912 Stockholm
, a United States team played against the swedish team Vastaras
, winning 13-3 despite the fact an american pitched for the hosts.
In the “Inter Allied Forces Olympics” in 1919
) the USA beat Canada 12-1
A huge effort was done in order to have baseball
in the program of the 1936 Olympics
(Germany). Basically, the credit goes to future International Federation founder and first President Leslie Mann
. Actually, both the Major Leagues (who chose Babe Ruth
as their testimonial) and the Japanese leagues
offered their contribution to the cause. But when diplomatic relations between the USA and Germany deterioreted, the Major Leagues withdrew their support and Japan refused to compete against a team not supported by the Major Leagues. Mann selected 2 United States teams: World Champions
and US Olympics
. They played against each other, with Adolf Hitler
himself watching the game in right field foul territory and over 90,000
spectators in attendance. Baseball
was on the program of the 1940 Olympics
team tournament), but the Games
were cancelled by the second World War.
The 1952 Helsinki Olympics
hosted, as a demonstration event, a modified form of the game: Finnish baseball
, played by two local teams.
Finally, baseball was back in the Olympics
played a one-game exhibition against the United States
(in front of a crowd of over 100.000
Thanks to the relations the Head Coach of the University of Southern California Rod Dedeaux
had with with Japan
(he had manager to take a team to compete there, opening the US-Japan Collegiate Series
, that has been played up to these days) and the effort of the recently born National Commission of American Baseball, the old game was named a demonstration sport in the 1964 Games
. A talented Team USA
in front of 50,000
After a 20 year hiatus, Olympic baseball
was labeled again a demonstration sport by the IOC in the 1984 Games
in Los Angeles
was again the key person, since he succeeded in involving in the project Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley
, who guaranteed with the Organizing Commitee (chaired by Peter Ueberroth
) against losses. It was the first time baseball
made it to the Olympics
with a tournament format.The Americas (USA, Canada, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua), Asia (Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei) and Europe (Italy) were represented.
surprisingly won against Team USA
in the final.
The tournament was such a success that the IOC voted baseball a medal sport on October 13 1986
In 1988 Seoul
hosted another demonstration tournament. This time 5 Continents were represented, since Australia
was amongst the nations invited. The United States
won over Japan
won the first 2 gold medals: dominating in 1992
(they won the final 11-1 against Chinese Taipei
) and in 1996
(13-9 against Japan).
Professional players were admitted to the Games
for the first time in the Sydney 2000 Olympics
. A Team USA
managed by Hall of Fame coach Tom La Sorda
to claim the gold medal. Ben Sheets
threw a 4 hitter in the final, but the tournament included more stars: Cuba's Jose Contreras
, Japan's Daisuke Matsuzaka
, Australia's David Nilsson
, Italy's Jason Simontacchi, The Netherlands' Robert Eenhoorn
After the IOC decided to limit the program of the Summer Olympics
sports starting the 2012
Games, baseball was voted out of the program on July 7 2005
So far, the 2008 Bejing Games
are the last with a baseball
tournament on the program.
In August 2009
the IOC picked golf
and rugby seven
for the 2016 Games
reinstatement has been made a priority by Riccardo Fraccari
after he was elected to the IBAF presidential chair in December 2009