“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan."
World Baseball and Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari and President of the Baseball Federation of Japan Masatake Yamanaka have lauded the success of the WBSC Premier12 and baseball in Japan overall.
With two days of the WBSC Premier12 Super Round left to play before the medal matches on Sunday, Mr Fraccari and Mr Yamanaka were in agreement about how important the Premier12 is for international baseball and the growth of the sport around the world.
“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan. “As the Sports Director of Samurai Japan, I work on player selection and their preparation, but at the same time, together with NPB, we worked with the Tokyo Dome and ZOZO Marine Stadium to make the event very successful and provide a welcoming experience for each team and their fans who are coming here from all over the world.”
“This second edition of the Premier12 is yet another example of the continuous growth of international baseball,” said WBSC President, Riccardo Fraccari. “For this we must also praise the relationship with all professional leagues around the world; without them an event of this level would not be possible. Next summer, our athletes will be once again representing their countries, this time on the highest sport stage, the Olympic Games. The whole global baseball community is excited about it. Japan has been a wonderful home for international baseball this week and we expect to continue to showcase the best of our sport.”
Baseball was introduced in Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, an American Teacher at Ichiban Chugaku (now Tokyo University) who presented the game to its students. Since then, baseball has become one of the most iconic and popular activities in Japan. The NPB is Japan's largest professional sports competition in terms of television ratings and spectators, that’s why baseball is expected to be one of the most important events during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
It is the second time for the WBSC Premier12 to feature in Japan after the 2015 Opening Game and Finals were held here at Sapporo Dome and Tokyo Dome respectively. The top international baseball competition in recent years, the Premier12 is the perfect lead in to what will be the historic return of baseball to the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
Efren Navarro: “This is historic for Mexico”
Clark hit a clutch home run in the ninth inning to tie the game, while Navarro hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics
Mexico defeated today USA, 3-2, in ten innings in a great team effort. However, the game had two heroes: Matt Clark and Efren Navarro.
“Qualify for the first time for the Olympic Games is historic for Mexico,” said Navarro, who hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics, during the post-game interview.
“It’s a great honour. I respect a lot USA, they have great prospects that will be soon in the Major Leagues, but tonight was our night.”
“We all grow up dreaming on defending your country and playing in the Olympics. And being the first time for Mexico it’s such an honour for us and for the fans.”
Asked about the game-winning hit, Navarro said: “First we must credit the team. Our pitchers, the lineup, Clark, who homered to keep us in the game. Every at-bat is very important, I just tried to fight, to play for the team and thanks god I could do it.”
“We’re going to the Olympics,” said Clark, who tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo dinger. “You can’t put it in words, is such a great achievement as a country, as players, as coaches… everybody that’s involved back home, the fans. It’s going to be an amazing experience for everybody to be able to go there and show the world what we have.”