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Baseball Demonstrations at the Olympics

Baseball has had a long history of competition in various forms at the Olympic Games. Early on it was played as a demonstration sport only, with the sport not achieving full sport status until 1992, and being dropped again after 2008. However, baseball was back on the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (but unfortunately not for 2024). It will return in 2028 for the LA Olympics.

Baseball Demonstration at the 1912 Olympic Games Baseball Demonstration at the 1912 Olympic Games (Sweden batting).
from: The Fifth Olympiad: The Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912, published in 1913.

Baseball was first played at the 1904 Games in St Louis, although little was recorded of this event lists Washington University was the winners of the tournament.

an email from Phil:

"Although an amateur baseball tournament was SCHEDULED in September 1904 at Francis Field in St. Louis, there seems to be no documentation that this tournament was ever actually held, in either the official Olympic history or in any of the St. Louis newspapers for that month. Do you have any such documentation or evidence that the 1904 Olympic baseball tournament was ever actually held?"

In 1912 at Stockholm, an American team played against the host country Sweden, a match at the Östermalm Athletic Grounds on July 15th. The US team was made up of volunteers from the track & field team, the Swedes were represented by a local club Vesteras. Eight Olympic medalists took part in the game. The USA won the game 13-3. On the next day two American teams played a second exhibition match. This second match included Olympic great Jim Thorpe (the previous day's game had clashed with his decathlon event). See other demonstration sports for 1912.

In 1924 in Paris there was baseball played as part of the children's games and sports demonstration.

In 1936 Berlin, two American teams played each other. The squad of American players were divided into two teams, the "World Champions" and the "U.S. Olympics". The World Champions won 6-5.

The 1952 Helsinki event was a modified form of the sport, called Pesäpallo (Finnish baseball), played by two Finnish teams: the Finnish Baseball Federation and the Finnish Workers' Sports Federation. The Finnish Baseball Federation won 8-4.

At the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, baseball was one of two demonstration sports. Australia played a one-game exhibition against the United States. The Americans beat the Aussies, 11-5. The other demonstration sport that year was Australian Rules Football.

An all-star Japanese team played a one-game exhibition against the a team of United States college players in 1964 Tokyo. USA won 6-2.

Baseball was also played as a demonstration sport at the 1968 Olympics, in Mexico City. The teams involved were USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba. There is a lot more informaition about the Mexican International Baseball Tournament, played in conjuction with the 1968 Olympic Games.

After Mexico, there was a break of 16 years before baseball returned to the Olympics. For the first time, in 1984, the sport was played in a tournament format, though still as a demonstration event. In this event, Japan defeated the United States in the final.

In 1988, US and Japan met again in the final, with Team USA the winner.

Baseball became an "official" sport at the 1992 Olympics, with the familiar eight-team tournament. For more information, see Baseball at the Olympic Games. Baseball was dropped from the 2012 Games though was back on the program for just the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

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The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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