Hey baseball fans!
Baseball and softball will officially be back in the Olympic Games in Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympics! I am so excited to watch the world's best play in Japan. Here is a brief history of Olympic baseball and softball.
For the longest time, the two sports were only considered recreational in the Olympics. There were no medals awarded for the best team and the sports didn't really gain the recognition they deserved. However, there were some instances that made it apparent that baseball should have been an Olympic sport sooner than it actually became one. An exhibition game between two American teams during the 1936 Berlin Games was watched live by around 100,000 people, almost double the seating capacity at Yankee Stadium, and an exhibition game between the U.S. and Australia during the 1956 Melbourne Games was watched live by 114,000 people, the largest attendance for a baseball game ever to that date.
The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were the first games to have a tournament for baseball, but the sport was still considered an exhibition and no medals were awarded for first place Japan or second place United States. The two countries flip-flopped positions in the '88 Seoul Games, but still no official medals were given out. Finally, baseball became an official Olympic sport in time for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, while softball became one for the '96 Games in Atlanta. Both sports had eight team round-robin tournaments. The teams with the most wins would face off in semifinals and finals. However, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) voted baseball and softball out of the Olympics for the 2012 Games in London, becoming the first sports to be voted out of the Olympics since polo was eliminated from the 1936 Games. But baseball and softball will be back for the 2020 Tokyo Games after the IOC approved their return on August 3, 2016.
Cuba won the gold in baseball in 1992, 1996, and 2004, while the U.S. took gold in 2000 and South Korea in 2008. Other teams to have placed in the top three include Australia (silver in '04), Chinese Taipei (silver in '92) and Japan (silver in '96 and bronze in '92 and '04). In softball, the U.S. won the first three golds, while Japan took gold in 2008. Australia and China have won the other medals during softball's Olympic history. Pitcher Pedro Luiz Lazo for Cuba is the most decorated baseball Olympian, helping Cuba to four medals from 1996-2008. Pitcher Jennie Finch never lost a game for the U.S. softball team during Olympic play and was on the nation's gold medal team in 2004 and silver medal team in 2008.
Who else is excited for baseball and softball in the Olympics? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."