Sunday, May 17, 2015

1969 World Baseball Cup

For the first time, the WBC returned to a country for the 2nd time. With the success of the MLB, and the stadium infrastructure, the USA was bound to host another soon. The driving force behind the host cities of Houston and Dallas was the new Astrodome. Climate controlled, and modern. The Arlington stadium had been renovated from 10k to 35k in anticipation for a Major League Baseball l team to move to the Dallas area. The stadium, would host the Texas Rangers starting in 1972.
The USA got the automatic bid for the tournament. The only team added was the United Kingdom, which currently holds the record for most qualifying appearances without a single World Baseball Cup appearance. Japan dominated the World Division, which wasn't good for the game. South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Philippines were rumored to starting a Pacific Division for the Japanese, but the IBF said the results for the Japanese would be similar to the ones they experience in Europe. Italy and Nicaragua's attempts to qualify for their first would be thwarted by a dominant Mexico side.

The same 8 teams from Mexico 65 qualified for the 1969 tournament. With the Cubans out of the IBF, the gap between the 8th and 9th best teams was pretty wide. The hosts had Panama, Canada, and Venezuela in their group, and rinsed the competition. Despite future hall of famers Rod Carew and Ferguson Jenkins on their teams, Panama and Canada were eliminated. World Home Run champion Shadharu Oh hit 5 home runs in the group stage. His record of 6 World Baseball Cup home runs in a tournament, and 14 over his career held for almost 30 years. Japan and Puerto Rico advanced past Mexico and the Dominican in Arlington. This was Roberto Clemente's last tournament before he died in 1971. He remained the leading hitter in tournament history until 2009 when Ichiro passed his record. 

The Americans matched up against rival Puerto Rico and won 3-1. Japan ousted the Venezuelans as well. In the final, the Japanese held the United States to 2 runs, but only scored 1 in the 3rd championship for the United States.

No changes, but this was the last tournament before pullovers and elastic pants.

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