Merida, Yuc. (elgordogringo.com.mx) July 20, 2021.- 

When do you think baseball first appeared in the Olympics as a sport? Was it in the 1800s as the sport became the nation’s ¨great game¨ or maybe it was in the ‘30s when greats like Babe Ruth or Mel Almada took the continent by storm?

Baseball didn’t gain official status until the summer of 1992 when it first was included at the Olympic Games. Then baseball was removed for the 2012 and 2016 Games only to return this year, 2020, and now the future of the sport in coming years is more of a question than a certainty.

The inaugural 1992 Olympic baseball tournament– hosted in Barcelona– was dominated by Cuba as they faced the Chinese national team for gold and soundly beat them 11-1.

Cuba has won more medals– winning either gold or silver in each appearance– than any other nation that’s played in the Olympic baseball tournament, winning a total of 5 metals, but was unable to qualify for the games this year.

What makes 2020 special

Baseball will not be included in the 2024 Olympics, so this may be the final time we see the game on the Olympic stage. The Olympics are set to return to the USA in 2028, but it’s currently still unknown if baseball will be included in the Games. 

2020 is a special year, not just for the Olympics coming back after being postponed last year, but for two nations that qualified for the first time; Mexico and Israel. 

Mexico

Mexico secured their trip to Tokyo by winning bronze in the 2019 WBSC Premier12 tournament — a tournament of the world’s 12 highest ranked national teams– when they met the USA national team for bronze, beating them 3-2. After the game, the WBSC announced the Premier12 All-World Team and the winners of the individual awards, including Mexico’s center-fielder Johnathan Jones.

The Mexican national team is currently in Mexico City preparing themselves for their Thursday departure to Tokyo. They hope to bring Gold to Mexico for the nation’s first time, sending their national team to play on the Olympic stage.

Israel

After a solid showing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) where they came in sixth place– automatically qualifying for the 2019 European Baseball Championship. If they placed in the top five of that tournament, they would be able to enter the Africa/Europe 2020 Olympic Qualification tournament. In preparation for a possible Olympic qualification by the Israeli team, 10 American baseball players made aliyah in 2018 to qualify under the citizenship requirement for the 2019 European Baseball Championships and the Olympics.

The influx of talent helped Israel win the tournament and qualify to be one of six national teams that will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer, along with Japan, South Korea, Dominican Republic, United States, and Mexico

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