France national baseball team
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|Appearances||3 (First in 1994)|
|Appearances||3 (First in 1991)|
|Appearances||24 (First in 1955)|
|Best result||3rd (1 time, in 1999)|
The French National Baseball team represents the French Federation of Baseball and Softball in international competitions, such as the World Baseball Classic, the European Baseball Championship or the World Cup of Baseball. They are currently ranked 25th in the world.
The history of the French team began in 1929 with their first official game against Spain in Barcelona with a 10–6 victory. The team made its debut in competition in 1955 when it played in the finals of the second European Baseball Championship, finishing fifth out of five teams.
The French team has qualified for the World Cup finals three times, the first time in 1994. In order to qualify for the finals a playoff game was played against South Africa. France lost seven games during the competition, and finished in 16th place out of 16 teams. In 2001, as well as 2003, les Bleus (the nickname of the team) made their way into the World Cup finals. During the 2001 edition the French team finished in 15th place, tied for last with the Philippines. They also finished in 15th place in 2003, out of 15 teams. After 3 trips to the World Cup and 21 games, the French team has yet to record a win.
In the fall of 2012, France participated in their first World Baseball Classic Qualifier. The team played in the Jupiter, Florida pool alongside South Africa, Spain and Israel. France lost both its games to Spain and South Africa. Les Bleus are expected to participate in the following WBC, scheduled for fall 2016/spring 2017.
In September 2013, France named former MLB pitcher Éric Gagné new head coach. The team played a series of trial games in Florida in October 2013 and in Phoenix, Arizona in March 2014 in preparation for the 2014 European Championships. In early September 2014, France hosted the inaugural France International Baseball Tournament. France won the first exhibition game 8-7 vs. Japan before claiming game 1 6-3 over Belgium and game 2 10-5, again over Japan. "Les Bleus" claimed their first ever victory over the Netherlands with a 12-8 win on September 8, 2014 before falling 3-2 against the Dutch in the championship game the following night.
Every two years, France participates in the European Baseball Championship. France's best result came in 1999 when the team finished third. The French National team finished 6th in the 2014 European Championships, going 4-1 in Regensburg, GER before falling to Czech Republic, Holland and Spain in the Brno, CZ.
In March 2015 French pitcher Owen Ozanich was France's lone representative on Team Europe which split two contests at the Tokyo Dome against Samurai Japan.
In July 2015 France sent many of its national team players to participate in the 2015 World University Summer Games in South Korea. Rouen manager Keino Perez was the manager for this competition. France finished in 8th place. Once back in Europe, the national team played a series of games in Antwerp, Belgium, July 23–24 against Sweden and the host country, Belgium. With a 2-0 record, France won the Flanders invitational tournament with Belgium coming in second and Sweden third.
In November and December 2015 Ozanich along with Leonel Cespedes represented France on Team Europe during the Asian Winter League held in Taichung, Taiwan. Cespedes was sold out of the bullpen with a 4.50 ERA. Ozanich led the team in innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA.
The French National Team competed in the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers held in March 2016 in Panama. In game one, Panama beat France behind long time MLB catcher Carlos Ruiz's two home runs in front of a crowd of over 11,000. In game two, Cespedes pitched France to a victory over European rival Spain at Rod Carew Stadium. The 5-3 victory marked the first win in four tries at the WBC Qualifiers for the French. In the semi-final game, France, led by offensively by first baseman Rene Leveret's home run in the fifth inning, found themselves tied with Panama in the fifth inning, but were not able to close out the game, falling 7-4, ending their hopes of qualifying for the 2017 WBC.
In April 2016 it was announced that Kieran Mattison would replace Eric Gagne as French National Team Manager. The American born Mattison is a former pitcher, having played as high as AAA. He is currently a coach in the Pirates organization and has past managerial experience in France where he was manager of Paris for two seasons.
On July 16, the FFBS hosted its first ever All-Star Game in La Rochelle, won by the French League Foreign All-Stars by a score of 12-7 over the French National Team. Prior to the game, French national team shortstop Felix Brown won the first annual home run derby.
At the beginning of September, the French Federation hosted the second edition of the France International Baseball Tournament (also known as the Yoshida Challenge), featuring France, Germany, Netherlands and International Stars. France finished in third place behind Germany and the Netherlands. France finished in 7th place in the 2016 European Championships which were held in Hoofddorp, NL. They beat Croatia, Greece and Sweden, while falling to Italy, Belgium and Spain. Third baseman Maxime Lefevre hit .500 for the tournament while P/OF Leonel Cespedes posted a 2-0 record with a 0.64 ERA.
French pitchers Leonel Cespedes and Marc Andre Habeck will represent France at the 2016 Asian Winter League with Team Europe in November and December in Taiwan.
Past Results/French Players in Professional Baseball
A list of all French National team players who have played professional baseball
Anthony Cross: Quebec Capitales (2010)
Maxime Lefevre: Quebec Capitales (2013)
Alex Roy: Seattle Mariners (RK) (2012–2014)
Owen Ozanich: Adelaide Bite (2012–2013)
Andy Paz: Oakland Athletics (RK/A/AA) (2011–2016)
|World Baseball Classic record||Qualification record|
|2006||Did not enter||No qualifiers held|
|2009||Did not enter||No qualifiers held|
|2013||Did not qualify||United States||0||2||2||13|
|2017||Did not qualify||Panama||1||2||11||19|
Baseball World Cup
- 1994 : 16th
- 2001 : 15th
- 2003 : 15th
- 1991 : 10th
- 1993 : 10th
- 1997 : 7th
European Baseball Championship
- 1954 : did not qualify
- 1955 : 5th
- 1956 : did not qualify
- 1957 : did not qualify
- 1958 : 6th
- 1960 : did not qualify
- 1962 : 6th
- 1964 : 5th
- 1965 : did not qualify
- 1967 : did not qualify
- 1969 : 7th
- 1971 : 9th
- 1973 : 6th
- 1975 : 6th
- 1977 : did not qualify
- 1979 : did not qualify
- 1981 : did not qualify
- 1983 : 6th
- 1985 : did not qualify
- 1987 : 4th
- 1989 : 5th
- 1991 : 4th
- 1993 : 4th
- 1995 : 5th
- 1997 : 5th
- 1999 : 3rd
- 2001 : 4th
- 2003 : 7th
- 2005 : 6th
- 2007 : 5th
- 2010 : 6th
- 2012 : 8th
- 2014 : 6th
- 2016 : 7th