Since we published our history of baseball5 events last March [updated link], the WBSC’s newest discipline has spread quickly around the globe. From its creation 18 months before then, 75 events had been held involving 39 countries. As we shall see, both numbers have grown significant in the last year, aided by a number of WBSC announcements. These include the successful bid to include baseball5 at the 2022 Summer Youth Olympics and series of statements about the first Baseball5 World Cup.
Fast-forward almost a year from our last article and numbers of events and participating countries have expanded enormously. There have been 177 officially sanctioned baseball5 clinics, demonstrations, games, and tournaments in an incredible 63 countries, with countless other team practices, friendly matches, and children’s games not included.
Growth of the sport was unabated in 2019, even before the announcement that Mexico would host Baseball5 World Cups at the senior and Under-18 levels. Two countries, the United Kingdom and Australia have announced the inclusion of baseball5 in schools in their countries, with the latter to release it nationwide in 2020. France has successfully included the sport at multiple universities, while in Japan, women’s baseball teams have held several taster sessions in the last three months.
Japan has been the most active baseball5 country in Asia, though the WBSC has particularly encouraged the sport’s growth in southeast Asia as well. In total, Japan has hosted 11 baseball5 events, mostly in the past six months. Argentina’s late-2018 surge around the World Youth Games has continued, with seven events last year and 12 overall.
Elsewhere in the Americas, Mexico has demonstrated why it was chosen to host the first baseball5 world cups. Probeis, the national professional baseball organisation for Mexico, has hosted 11 ‘Ferias de baseball5’ (Baseball5 Fairs) around the country in the last two months alone. It offered training to 90 coaches at the annual meeting of CONADE, Mexico’s Commission for Physical Culture and Sport.
Not to be outdone, Canada has also invested heavily in baseball5. Québec, in particular, has taken the lead, with seven events in the last seven months. In January, a baseball5 league was initiated in the province, one of only four known baseball5 leagues in the world.
Meanwhile, France and Spain have taken the reins in Europe. France inaugurated its first dedicated baseball5 field in October, while Spain opened its second only one month ago. It was France that revealed teams for the first European Championship and also staged the first French Baseball5 Open in January. Another four tournaments are already scheduled in the next four months.
In the past few months, the WBSC has awarded continental championships and world cup qualifiers to Vilnius and Kuala Lumpur. Six countries have held international tournaments in preparation: Bulgaria, Colombia, Cuba, France, Italy, and Spain.
A total of 10 countries staged national championship at the senior, university, or Under-15 levels in the last 12 months. These included Bulgaria, Cuba, France, Iran, Kenya, the Netherlands, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Zambia. Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain, and Venezuela all plan to join them by the end of 2020. By the end of the year, Cuba and the Netherlands will also become the first two nations to hold a second national championship.
In fact, so many baseball5 competitions have already been announced for 2020 that this article will mark the first baseball5 annual calendar, a feature that we have offered for several years for men’s and women’s baseball. It is likely that the list will increase dramatically by the end of the year, possibly including World Cup qualifiers for Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
2020 Baseball5 Calendar
18-19 French Baseball5 Open (Paris, France)
14-16 I Balkan Indoor Open
15 Deadline to confirm World Cup Qualifiers.
22 OSGOR Baseball5 Tournament (Oradour-sur-Glane, France)
22 Dragons Baseball5 Tournament (Villefontaine, France)
22 Tower Baseball5 (Javerdat, France) [link]
28-Mar. 1 European Baseball5 Championship* (Vilnius, Lithuania)
29 II LFBBS Tournament [link]
29 I Ländle Baseball5 Event (Lustenau, Austria) [link]
7 II Netherlands Baseball5 National Championship (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
7 II Netherlands Under-15 Baseball5 National Championship (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
7 Baseball5 TSI (Rīga, Latvia [link]
19 University Baseball5 Tournament (Nîmes, France) [link]
Asia Cup* (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
18 Baseball5 Outdoor Tournament (Valenciennes, France) [Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar confirmed]
30-31 Baseball5 Tournoi International de Paris (Paris, France)
25-28 Asia Cup* (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
25-28 Under-15 Asia Cup* (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
12-13 II Barcelona International Tournament (Sant Adrià, Spain)
7-8 I Spanish National Championship (Sant Adrià, Spain)
TBD Baseball5 Under-18 World Cup (Mexico)
TBD Baseball5 World Cup (Mexico)
TBD: European Under-18 Championship, Caracas Championship, Venezuelan National Championship, Venezuelan U18 National Championship, Brazilian National Championship (second half of 2020)
*World Cup Qualifier