Baseball in Italy?

Team Italy plays baseball at the World Baseball ClassicI love the signs of spring; blossoms, longer days, beautiful weather and baseball!

The recent World Baseball Classic made me think about what a true “World Series” looks like. It is wonderful to see so many countries participating in the great American pastime!

Did you know that baseball in Italy started at the end of WW2? Nettuno is an Italian town one hour south of Rome along the Tyrrhenian Sea (west coast and is close to the American cemetery in Anzio (site of the famous World War II battle). American troops went to Italy during WWII to push out the invading Nazis. They accomplished this valiantly plus also left behind the legacy of Italian baseball. They taught Italian kids to play the game, started to play in front of spectators and planted the seed.

The first Italian League tournament in Bologna took place in 1948 and Bologna won the contest. Italian cities with a past and current baseball tradition include: Nettuno, Bologna, Parma, Milan, Rimini and Grosseto.

There is a sign entering Nettuno saying “Benvenuti a Nettuno – Città del Baseball.” (welcome to Nettuno, city of baseball).

Italian baseball trivia:

  • Joe Di Maggio visited here when he was retired and smashed a ball out of the park.
  • The first Italian-born player to play Major League Baseball in the U.S. was Julio Bonetti: Genoa, Italy (St. Louis Browns, 1937)