Amateur baseball split off from its counterpart in 1871. Even after it’s split it continued to succeed on vacant lots, pastures, small towns and so forth. It also grew in international popularity. Amateur Baseball traveled to Latin America and Asia. The US Military teams helped grow the sport in countries like The Netherlands, England, Tunisia, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. Worldwide amateur teams are recognized by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). Lausanne, Switzerland is the headquarters for this organization and has hosted a Baseball World Cup since 1938.Baseball has grown to one of the more important amateur sports in the United States.
In 1864 baseball was introduced to Cuba when students returned home from the US with a bat and ball. During the independence struggle against Spain at the end of the 19th century baseball became part of the Cuban identity. The Dominican Republic was introduced to baseball in the 1880’s when two brothers who had gone to school in the US brought it back. Cuban’s brought baseball to Venezuela in 1895 and to Puerto Rico in 1897. Various Cuban refuges, and railroad workers, and US Merchant Marines introduced baseball to various regions of Mexico between 1877 and the 1890’s. Baseball to this day still remains most important in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. It is the most popular sport in Venezuela.
Asia and the Pacific
Japan was introduced to baseball in the 1870’s. By the end of the century it had become a national sport. The country’s top high school teams are nationally televised and draw more than 50,000 fans in Osaka. Japan has long imported players from the United States. But only recently have Japanese players started playing in the Major League in the US. Baseball is also an important sport in Korea. Korea has a professional league that since 1892 has had an 8 team circuit. Taiwan also has 2 professional teams as well as produced several little league world champion teams.
Even though soccer dominated professional sports in Europe, there is a 9 team professional baseball league in Italy. While The Netherlands has a 10 team circuit. The Netherlands and Italy competed in the 2000 Olympics.
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