Host City: Atlanta, United States
Date Started: July 20, 1996
Date Finished: August 2, 1996
Participants: 160 (160 men and 0 women) from 8 countries
Youngest Participant: Kim Seon-U (18 years, 320 days)
Oldest Participant: Marcel Joost (35 years, 221 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 60 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 1 medal
After débuting as a full medal sport in 1992, this was the second Olympic baseball tournament. It was held at the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, which was the home of the major league Atlanta Braves, although they would move into the Olympic Stadium (to be renamed Turner Field) in 1997. The stadium was built in 1966 and was also the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons from 1966-91. It was most famous in baseball as the site of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in April 1974, when he broke Babe Ruth’s major league record for most career home runs. After the Braves moved to Turner Field, the stadium was imploded and demolished in August 1997, although a plaque still exists marking the landing point of Aaron’s record-breaking home run.
The tournament consisted of eight teams who participated in a round-robin tournament, which advanced the top four teams to the semi-finals, where a single-elimination semi-final, final, and a bronze medal game determined the top four places. The eight teams were chosen as follows – the United States as the host nation; two teams from the 1995 Pan American Games (Cuba, Nicaragua); two teams from the 1995 European Championships (The Netherlands, Italy); two teams from the 1995 Asian Championships (Japan, Korea [South]); and Australia, the 1995 Oceanian Champion, qualified by defeating South Africa, the 1995 African Champion, in a play-off.
As they had in 1992, Cuba, the dominant nation in international baseball, won the gold medal without losing a game, extending their Olympic winning streak to 18 games. Cuba defeated Japan in the final, with the United States defeating Nicaragua for the bronze medal.