Rest of the world missing all the fun

Less than a dozen countries that aren't small islands can claim a significant interest in the game.

Updated: April 9, 2004, 8:45 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
The Associated Press is reporting that, according to data released by the Commissioner's office, the percentage of "foreign-born" players has dropped from Opening Day of 2003.

For me, this elicits a mixed reaction.

On the one hand, I very much want to see baseball grow on the international stage. For well over a century, there have been attempts to market the game internationally and the progress has been slow-going. Old baseball guides are filled with hopeful-sounding articles about the growing popularity of the game and baseball's efforts to make it so. Yet here we are in 2004 and less than a dozen countries that aren't small islands can claim a significant interest in the game. While firmly entrenched in places like Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, for the most part, the game has not taken in the majority of the world and cannot be considered the number one sport in many countries (including this one, many would argue). Baseball long ago lost out as the leading international sport to soccer and, more recently, fell behind basketball in universal appeal. Personally, I think the world is missing out and it pains me that the gains the game is making in other countries have been so slow to take.


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Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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