Baseball in the Philippines
Baseball was introduced in the Philippines during the American colonial period. Baseball was a national past time in the country. The sport has become a re-emerging sport in the recent years. National policy and programs on baseball are, since 2018, directed by a renewed organization recognized by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee - the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA), reestablished the same year.
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Baseball was introduced in the Philippines by the Americans. The first baseball game in the Philippines was played in September 1898 weeks after the Battle of Manila of 1898, a match between Astor Battery led by George Wetlaufer and a regiment from the American Army. From 1899 to 1900, baseball clubs were established by local Filipinos. The sport's introduction aided the American colonial government's assimilation efforts. General Otis planned to eliminate local cockfighting through the introduction of the sport. A baseball league composing of six clubs was established. Then, Governor General William Howard Taft encouraged baseball in the archipelago. Baseball grew to be a popular sport in the country.
Baseball's popularity saw a decline from 1898 to 1923 because of claims of neglect by the Department of Public Instruction. Prior to 1998, sporting officials claimed that the department, through the Bureau of Education, had supported baseball in the country with the goal of eliminating cockfighting in the country. Teachers who were brought from the United States to the country had no experience in baseball and even in basic athletics. The Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation favored indoor baseball over its outdoor counterpart. In 1923, the Manila League was the only flourishing league in the country.
Late 20th century
Baseball experienced a boost when the Philippines hosted the first Asian Baseball Championship in 1954 and emerged as champions in the inaugural tournament. Bobby Balcena became the first player of Filipino descent to play in the Major League Baseball in 1956. Baseball continued to be a popular sport up to the mid 1970s. Political conflict among baseball officials led to the decline of the sports in the country. Basketball eventually gained popularity over baseball.
From 1971 to 1994, the Philippines did not take part in any international competition. Baseball suffered from lack of financial support and a decrease of baseball venues. There was also a lack of coverage on television on the sport.
Since 2005, the Philippine baseball became a re-emerging sport finishing just behind the three Asian baseball powerhouses. The Philippines became a powerhouse in the ASEAN region and has developed rivalries with Thailand and Indonesia. As part of a growning national revival, the professional Baseball Philippines league was established in 2007. In recent years the country's youth baseball contingents have played in the Little League Baseball regional and international qualifiers as well as in other competitions abroad, and have brought not just national prestige, but also increased interest in the sport among Filipinos.
To reach out to Filipinos abroad, Canadian TV channel OMNI Television began airing Filipino language broadcasts of Toronto Blue Jays games on CJMT-DT beginning August 2018 for Toronto's Filipino community. This is the very first time that baseball has been aired in the Filipino language to serve Filipino baseball fans in Canada.
With ex-NFL quarterback Tim Tebow's transtition into baseball and since he is as of 2018 now playing for the New York Mets AA affiliate Binghamton Rumble Ponies, if called into the Mets team in the future he will be the first Filipino in many years to join the ranks of the major league teams.
- Philippines national baseball team
- Baseball Philippines
- List of baseball stadiums in the Philippines
- "Baseball Aids Taft". The Pittsburgh Press. March 22, 1903. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Philippine Islands Wild Over Baseball". The Pittsburgh Press. August 2, 1913. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Baseball in the Philippines" (PDF). The New York Times. February 13, 1916. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- Simon, Tom. "Arlie Pond". SABR Baseball Biography Project. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Baseball Dying Out in Philippine Islands". Reading Eagle. July 20, 1923. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Paba to launch first pro baseball here". Manila Standard. October 11, 1996.
- Fidler, Gabriel. "Philippines Preparing for Baseball Renaissance". Mister Baseball. Retrieved July 8, 2014.