Australia and Olympic Baseball
Australia was first represented at the Olympic Games in Atlanta placing seventh. Four years later in Sydney, they again placed seventh.
The team won its first ever Olympic medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens when they won silver behind the mighty Cubans. Australia advanced into the final match after defeating a Japanese team made up of professional players in the semi-final (1-0). In the final, the went down to Cuba 6-2.
As Australia did not qualify a baseball team for Beijing 2008, this silver would remain our only baseball medal after the sport was removed from the Olympic program.
Baseball became a full medal sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, having been a demonstration sport six times (including Melbourne in 1956). Pesapallo (Finnish baseball) was also demonstrated in Helsinki in 1952. In Barcelona and Atlanta 1996, baseball was only open to amateur players but by Sydney 2000 professionals were permitted to compete. Cuba was the dominant force in Olympic baseball winning the gold in 1992, 1996 and 2004. The US broke the dominance when they defeated Cuba in the Sydney final. At the 2008 Beijing Games, Cuba and the US had to settle for silver and bronze respectively with the dominant South Korean team taking gold.
At the IOC meeting in July 7, 2005, baseball and softball were voted out of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, becoming the first sports voted out of the Olympics since polo was eliminated from the 1936 Olympics.
The Guiness Book of Records states that the baseball game with the largest ever crowd actually took place in Australia. During the 1956 Melbourne Olympics there was an exhibition game between the United States and a group of Australians who had never played together before. It just so happens that when the game started the Melbourne Cricket Ground was virtually empty. Yet 114,000 spectators watched the final Australian batter get caught out over two hours later. The history books and the players think it’s irrelevant that they were there to watch the final athletics session of the Games.
Baseball is played between two teams taking turns batting and fielding. The object is to score the most runs in nine innings. Each team's turn at bat ends when three of its batters have been ruled out. If the score is tied after nine innings, the teams play another inning at a time until one team leads.
At the Olympic Games, each team plays the other seven teams once, and the top four teams advance to the semi-finals. The first-placed team then plays the fourth-placed team, and the second plays the third. The winners of those semi-finals meet to decide the gold and silver medals, with the two losing teams playing for the bronze.