First Olympic Appearance: 1992
by Mike Morrison and Mark Zurlo
Baseball became an official Olympic sport in 1992 at the Barcelona Games. In 2000, professional baseball players were permitted to play in the Olympics. This did have the same effect as allowing professional basketball players to play in the 1992 games, as Major League Baseball was in the middle of the pennant race when the games took place. The United States, however, won the gold medal in 2000.
Though still regarded by many as an American sport, baseball has taken tremendous strides over the last few decades to become more international. Dominican superstars like Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, and Pedro Martinez dot each major league roster and an increasing number of Japanese, Koreans, and Cubans are thriving in what once was a league with only Americans.
In the three previous Olympics where baseball was an official sport, the United States has come away with two medals, a bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and a gold in Sydney in 2000. Cuba won gold medals in 1992, 1996, 2004, and a silver in 2000.
The Beijing Games will feature the final Olympic baseball tournament, as the sport became the first to be voted out of the Olympics since polo was eliminated in 1936. Eight teams will compete for the gold, including the United States, which failed to qualify for the 2004 games. Competition will be held at the Wukesong Baseball Fields at the Wukesong Culture and Sports Center. The temporary facility will include two competition fields and a training field and will lie adjacent to the Wukesong Indoor Stadium, home of the Olympic basketball competition.