Wait… Baseball is Worldwide?

In 1975, a certain car company rolled an advertisement that cited baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet as icons in the foundation of American culture.

For many, baseball continues to be a present day pillar, and people around the country participate, follow, and fall in love with our national pastime. But from the casual to the most committed fan, the impact of the sport is rarely seen as expanding beyond the national level.

Sure, there are signs. Current Major League players such as Shohei Ohtani, Javier Baez, and Yasiel Puig are daily indicators that baseball’s attraction extends beyond American borders. Likewise, the lasting legacies of international stars like Roberto Clemente and Ichiro Suzuki remind us that this attraction has been a development rooted in time. Followers of events such as the World Baseball Classic may realize the potential of talent derived in countries such as Japan, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic; places that have even become associated with their own cultural take on the game.

And most recently, Major League sponsored initiatives such as the summer Red Sox and Yankees series held in London, England have opened eyes to potential new, marketable fan bases across the pond.

Author Michael Varga at the first ever MLB Game help in Europe. The London Series featured the New York Yankees and their rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

For most American patrons of the game of baseball, indicators like these, at best, scratch the surface of the sport’s international presence. Beyond the highlights of foreign talent and a light coating of media content, worldwide baseball is a hazy mist below a mountain top. We know how high the peak can rise, with no idea of the depth below. So just how deep does the game go?

As an international professional player since 2019, I have competed in five countries, and experienced the game as a spectator in two more. To summarize my interaction with baseball abroad, I would simply say, “baseball lives.” From the Swiss Alps to the South African coast, the Australian bush to the city of Paris, baseball lives. The game has anchored, adapted, and constantly develops in a breath that stretches from Canada to Argentina, Russia to New Zealand, and everywhere in between.

Not all of these locations host the glove, ball, and bat to the magnitude or intensity that the glorified American sports market does. But all around the world baseball inspires. It finds comfort in the homes of Australian community clubs, where baseball is a vessel for brotherly (or sisterly) competition, social events, and true feelings of family bonding. It rumbles with intensity through the voices that fill South Korean stadiums, as thundersticks, baseball fight songs, and cheerleaders make the atmosphere oftentimes feel more like that of the Roman Coliseum than a host for a baseball game. It is celebrated exuberantly with music, food, and drink throughout Europe at tournaments such as Finkstonball in Austria, and Prague Baseball Week in the Czech Republic.

Finkstonball is an annual baseball celebration held in Attnang, Austria.

And it illuminates in the hearts of a young Taiwan boy, a Belgian girl, and countless others around the world who dream of the big lights, big stages, and stardom they observe in their baseball idols through televised games that premiere at awkward hours of the day.Baseball may always be America’s national pastime, but it is the world’s game. For fans, there is an abundance of intriguing and exciting things happening in the sport that spans way beyond the Dodgers, Yankees, and our beloved hometown team.

Michael Varga International Coaching embraces the beauty of the great game of baseball as it is played, celebrated, and inspires around the world, and look to provide a platform for fans to discover and embrace the same passion within themselves.

We hope you will join us as we journey, analyze, and share all things baseball happening both domestically and internationally. Because we may have scratched through the surface, but we are nowhere close to exploring the depths of baseball around the globe.

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