I enjoy the Summer Olympics. This year is especially exciting for me because I can watch with Lefty, my son. Lefty is old enough now and loves sports. This is the first time he he can really understand and follow the Olympics. We stayed up late on Friday (and every night since) watching the coverage. He is thrilled and so am I. But then he asked me, “Hey Dad, is there baseball in the Olympics?”. I sighed and said unfortunately not.
I remember when baseball became an official Olympic sport in 1992. I was playing baseball in college and dreamed of wearing the USA uniform. And when Tommy Lasorda managed the team in 2000, I thought what a great experience for the players. I really enjoyed seeing the amateurs play against the world’s best. I enjoyed it more than if the team was made up of MLB players. As a young ball player, it was something else to dream about.
Sadly, the event was last played in 2008. In 2005 the IOC voted basebal and softball out of the Olympics in London. IOC head Jacques Rogge was interviewed by MLB.com’s Mark Newman and cited various criteria for Baseball to earn its way back in: “To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”
It was officially decided in August 2009 at the IOC Board meeting in Berlin that baseball would also not be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Maybe one day it will be back and Lefty can dream about playing for his country.
Do you want to see baseball and/or softball back in the Summer Olympics?
Good article on why baseball should return to the Olympics.