The World Baseball Classic (sometimes abbreviated WBC) was first held in 2006.
The idea of a tournament involving Major League Baseball (MLB) players had been seriously considered since the middle 1990s. The original idea had been sending the marquee players directly to their home countries in order to have them put together national teams. The MLB decided then to involve the IBAF, that through the then President Aldo Notari sanctioned the event.
The World Baseball Classic is the first international baseball tournament to feature players currently on the MLB 25 men roster. It has been implemented as a 16 team invitational tournament.
In addition to providing a competition between the top players in the world, the World Baseball Classic was created in order to further promote the game and MLB around the globe.
The tournament was announced in May 2005 by MLB and their Players Association (MLBPA).
The most demanding task back in 2005 for the organizers was including Cuba in the tournament. The State Department of the second George W. Bush Administration gave Cuba a licence to participate, but didn't allow them to share the prize money.
Similarly, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and its players' association, the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, had a disagreement over participation in the tournament. After 4 months of negotiations, NPB officially notified MLB they were accepting the invitation on September 16, 2005.
Japan would eventually win the first two Classics.
The first ever final was played in San Diego and saw Japan beat Cuba.
The second edition of the tournament was played in 2009. Japan beat Korea in the championship game played in Los Angeles.
Starting the 2013 edition, the World Baseball Classic will award the winners as World Champions. The top 12 teams of the 2009 tournament have been invited to the new edition. The 4 teams that did not enjoy a win will have to participate in a qualifying round in the Fall of 2012.