Baseball has often been called “America’s Favorite Past Time”. It’s a rather American sport, but what’s baseball like in other parts of the world? With sports being such a connective thread for people of different cultures and backgrounds to come together, it makes sense that baseball has moved from America to other places around the world. Here’s a little bit more information on where baseball is played around the world.
Baseball is played in practically every country in Asia. Japan was introduced to the sport in 1872 and has been partaking in professional competition since the 1920s. Japan is even home to the Nippon Baseball League, which has 12 clubs spread throughout the nation, 5 of which are based in the Greater Tokyo area. The rules differ a little bit from the MLB, such as the dimensions of the ball and fields are different than in the states. Other Asian countries where baseball is popular include South Korea, Israel, and Taiwan, with Taiwan having the highest Little League World Championships after the United States.
Africa was the last part of the world to begin developing baseball, and probably the part of the world where it’s the least popular. That doesn’t mean baseball isn’t played at all there. The southern regions of Africa is where the sport is played most, with South Africa being the only African team that has participated in an international competition or league. Africa was also the final of the continents to produce a major league player, debuting Gift Ngoepe in 2017.
Europe is home to the European Baseball Federation and is responsible for overseeing any and all international baseball competitions in Europe. One of the countries where baseball is the most popular is The Netherlands, where it’s not even called baseball, it’s called “Honkball”. Another country in Europe where baseball is popular is Italy. Italy is actually right behind the Netherlands in terms of baseball, with Italy winning 25 titles and the Netherlands having 27. The other two have been won by Spain and Belgium. In the UK, the sport is a little different with only 11 players on each team, but it’s still very similar to what we know from the states. The UK even beat the United States in the first World Cup of Baseball in 1938.
While it may not be as popular as it is in its northern counterpart, baseball is still played all over South America. Brazil has a national governing body known as the CBBS which oversees baseball activities and competitions, where Venezuela has several baseball teams that are part of the countries league. You’d be surprised to hear that over 200 major league players have come from Venezuela since 1939!
While it will most likely always be known as “America’s Favorite Past Time”, baseball is booming all across the world. If you’re ever traveling and get the chance to check out a foreign baseball game, make sure you do it! It could be a great learning experience to see how baseball is played in another country.