Thursday, May 28, 2015

1977 World Baseball Cup

The hosting privileges came down to Japan and the Dominican Republic, but for the first time the island nation would host the games. This was seen as a "perfect attendance award" to a nation that hasn't fully emerged as a baseball powerhouse yet. The qualifying had some exciting developments. Japan joined South Korea and Chinese Taipei to form an Asian confederation. The move allowed a European team to get an automatic bid into the final tournament. That hole was filled by the Netherlands with the help of Bert Blyleven. Cuba had the most runs in a tiebreaker for the second North American bid, earning the national team a first bid since reorganizing in Miami. Two teams broke up the Super 8 that had been dominating world baseball.

Group A was considered much more even than Group B. The teams in Santo Domingo fought for supremacy with Venezuela and Puerto Rico advancing. Unfortunately for the Dutch, Bert Blyleven couldn't bat and lead to a low of 4 runs. The USA and Japan advanced as many people predicted. The Cuban fans that had fled to the Dominican couldn't help the team win more than one game.

The Venezuelans once again advanced to the finals with a win over Oh and his Japanese teammates. Puerto Rico was rocked by Johnny Bench's 2 home runs leading to another USA-Venezuela match up in the knockout rounds. In this instance, the USA was victorious with a late homer in the 8th by George Brett. That would mark the 4th championship for the nation.

The majority of the teams remained the same. The iconic orange of the Dutch made their debut at this tournament. The Cubans also wore color for this tournament. They went with the softball-looking white top red pants at home and the inverse on the road.

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