A combined European baseball team will be fielded for the first time to take on world No.1 Japan in a new competition formed by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).
The two-game Global Baseball Match-Up will take place on March 10-11 at the Tokyo Dome and will be the first time a continent has been represented in an official international competition recognised by WBSC, the sport’s global governing body.
Nippon Professional Baseball, the operator of Japan’s domestic league, will host the mini-series.
“This is an unprecedented and historic event that signifies baseball's expansion into a totally new competition format,” WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said. “I am confident that this new type of international baseball competition being rolled out by WBSC will be exciting and highly appealing to the players, fans and key stakeholders.”
There are 43 WBSC member federations from Europe, a growth market for baseball, and Fraccari added: “It will be a great source of pride and validation for those nations whose players are selected to represent Europe, and this new concept that we are realising will provide an additional platform with which to raise the profile and brand of baseball in Europe and within each respective nation.”
The official look and apparel design for Team Europe are under development and will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Europe will be led by current Netherlands national team manager Steve Janssen and feature Italy manager Marco Mazzieri among the coaching staff. The Netherlands and Italy are among baseball’s top 12 nations, with rankings of five and 11 respectively.