In the summer of 2008, fans saw what might have been the last time that baseball at the Summer Olympics will be held. The 10-day tournament at the Wukeson Baseball Field in Beijing, China will be the last time baseball summer games take place unless the IOC (International Olympic Committee) votes to reinstate it later this year. Baseball will definitely not be held at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Although they had competed in four previous baseball Olympics competitions, South Korea had never medaled until the 2008 Summer Olympics. The so-called Blue Bogy, a nickname that reflects the color of their uniforms, put together a series of impressive wins to get to the final medal round. They began in group play with a perfect 7-0 record and then followed that momentum through to the second stage, where they beat powerhouses Japan (twice) and Cuba. In the final, Cuba and South Korea met again in a matchup of the number one and number two ranked teams in the world, respectively. Here, the Bogy were able to squeak by Cuba 3-2 and to come out the victorious underdogs in one of the most memorable baseball summer games on record.
But even this exciting finish could not reverse the decision that for now this is the last baseball at the summer olympics fans will see. The IOC had voted in the summer of 2005 that baseball and softball, both sports of American origin, would be cut beginning in 2012. The exact reasons for the cut are unknown but there are two suspected reasons. The first is that the United States team never used the power of their Major League players to compete. For some reason in baseball, the U.S. decided to retain the amateur-only credo of the olympics, while similarly disregarding it in basketball. The lack of talent and of subsequent interest, some say, doomed the sport since its inception as a regular Olympic summer game in 1992. The other suspected reason is that it was a manifestation of anti-American world sentiment, especially from French IOC President, Jacques Rogge. Those who believe this version of the story point out that Rogge has repeatedly attempted to remove baseball and softball from the program.
Though there is no Special Olympics baseball either, the sport is not without an international tournament. Almost simultaneously with the IOC’s removal decision in 2005, the United States Baseball Players Union voted to hold an annual World Baseball Classic tournament, which is run by Major League Baseball. Sixteen teams from around the world have continued their international rivalry each year using this new event to showcase their talent in the void left by olympic exclusion. Though the stage is not as grand as the summer olympics, baseball is still featured and allows the best teams in the world to match up in an exciting format. In 2009, the Blue Bogy just fell short to powerhouse Japan in the final of this new tournament, showing that even after a year and without the olympics, the world of baseball remains the same.
Keep it locked here at Electro-Mech for all the latest in baseball news, trends, lates and greats, because we’re more than just an electronic baseball scoreboards manufacturer. We have a passion for sports, and it’s our pleasure to share that passion with you. We’ll make sure to be there when the scoreboards light up as our favorite players rack up the points, especially at the place for the biggest games on the planet, the Olympics. GO TEAM USA!