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Riccardo Fraccari Elected New IBAF President

SWITZERLAND – Riccardo Fraccari of Italy was elected President of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) on Sunday to conclude the federation’s weekend-long continental meetings and Congress.

Fraccari replaces outgoing President Dr. Harvey W. Schiller who has led the IBAF since taking over mid-term in 2007 for the late Aldo Notari. In thanking the member federations for their support, Fraccari immediately addressed the tasks at hand for the IBAF.

“I want the IBAF to truly be the home of international baseball,” said Fraccari. “It is at this point that we need to shape our future…we need to take care of the development of baseball all over the world. This is the only way to truly become a global sport.”

Fraccari (pictured) was unopposed in his bid for IBAF President and therefore automatically won the election. The recently re-elected 1st Vice President of the European Baseball Confederation (CEB), Fraccari also served as Continental Vice President ( Europe) of the IBAF under Schiller.

He said that building upon the IBAF’s relationship with the world’s top professional leagues is among the most important things he will look to accomplish in his new role.

“It is extremely important for us to strengthen our relationship with the world’s professional leagues,” said Fraccari. “They need us to help continue to develop players worldwide, and we certainly need their support both on and off the field.”

Fraccari served as Vice President of Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) under President Notari from 1985 to 2000 and as an Umpire Commissioner in Italy. He was President of the CEB Technical Commission and a member of the IBAF Technical Commission. He was elected President of the Italian Federation on Dec. 8, 2001 and was recently voted into his third term.

New members of the IBAF’s Executive Committee were also elected on Sunday. Among them are Paul Seiler of the United States and Tony Castro – son of Fidel Castro – of Cuba. The 14-person group will be tasked with helping the federation’s membership continue the growth of international baseball from the grassroots level to the sport’s premiere world championships – the World Baseball Classic and the IBAF Baseball World Cup. Fraccari and the Executive Committee will begin a four-year term on Monday.

The elected Executive Committee is as follows:

President – Riccardo Fraccari, ITA
1st Vice President – Kazuhiro Tawa, JPN
2nd Vice President – Alonso Perez Gonzalez, MEX
3rd Vice President – Tony Castro, CUB
Secretary General – Israel Roldan, PUR
Treasurer – Rene Laforce, BEL
1st Member at Large – Paul Seiler, USA
2nd Member at Large – Tom Peng, TPE
3rd Member at Large – Luis Melero, ESP

These members are in addition to the IBAF’s Continental Vice Presidents (Presidents of continental federations), each of whom sit on the federation’s Executive Committee as well.

These members include:

Africa – Ishola Williams, NGR
Americas – Eduardo De Bello, PAN
Asia – Seung-Kyoo Kang, KOR
Europe – Martin Miller, GER
Oceania – John Ostermeyer, AUS

Over the last two years Dr. Schiller spearheaded the IBAF’s bid to return to the Olympic Programme in 2016 and oversaw a baseball competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games that witnessed record crowds and spurred interest in the sport throughout the country.

Dr. Schiller’s time with the IBAF was also highlighted by the introduction of Baseball World Rankings for both men and women, the birth of an International Women’s Baseball Committee and the first-ever Women’s Continental Championship in Venezuela, an improved online presence with the introduction of IBAF.org, the IBAF becoming fully WADA-compliant, numerous new baseball federations worldwide, and most recently, the first ever IBAF Baseball World Cup to be held in multiple countries throughout Europe (seven countries in total) which featured the most competing nations (22) in the tournament’s history as well.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my two years as President and leave the position knowing that the best years are yet to come for baseball, and I look forward as a fan and supporter to assisting in any way possible,” said Schiller addressing the Congress.

“Personally I want to thank all of you whom I have come in contact with for all your help and good wishes. Baseball is the ultimate team game, and we would not be successful in our efforts at any level if our whole team was not working toward one goal – growing the game.”

Also announced at the Congress was the naming of the federation’s top Senior Athlete, Junior Athlete, Coach, Umpire and Member Federation Executive. The awards had been presented on an annual basis until 2004 and have not been awarded since.

The 2009 awards recognize achievements over the last two years, which is a period of time that allows the federation to consider athletes from at least one of its two professional events – the Baseball World Cup and World Baseball Classic, both of which are competed in every-four-years cycles – and both of its junior events – the “AAA”/18U World Junior Championships and the “AA”/16U World Youth Championships, which are competed in alternating every-other-year cycles.

The recipients of the awards and a brief summary of their achievements are as follows:

Senior Athlete – Justin Smoak (Triple-A Oklahoma City, MILB)
Junior Athlete – Yung-Hoon Sung (Doosan Bears, KBO)
Coach – Tatsunori Hara (Yomiuri Giants, NPB)
Umpire – Paul Hyham ( Australia)
Member Federation Executive – Juergen Elsishans (German Federation)

Senior Athlete – Justin Smoak ( USA)
Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2008 MLB Draft as the 11th overall selection, Smoak is currently playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City. His outstanding performance (a U.S. World Cup -record nine home runs and 22 runs) at the 2009 Baseball World Cup helped Team USA win its second consecutive World Cup gold medal. Smoak was named to the World Cup All-Tournament Team and was also named the World Cup’s Most Valuable Player.

Junior Athlete – Yung-Hoon Sung ( Korea)
Sung was the MVP of the 2008 IBAF “AAA”/18U World Junior Championships. In addition to a complete game win over Chinese Taipei, he also shut out the USA with nine strikeouts in the final. He recorded a 1.32 ERA, three wins and 36 strikeouts. Sung also started his professional career with the Doosan Bears in Korea in 2009. He logged a 3.38 ERA in nine appearances.

Coach – Tatsunori Hara ( Japan)
Drafted in the first round by the Yomiuri Giants, Hara was one of the most celebrated players in Japanese Professional Baseball in the 1980s, replacing the retired Sadaharu Oh as the cleanup hitter. As a player, he won numerous awards such as Rookie of the Year, MVP and RBI leader to name a few. Currently, Hara manages the Yomiuri Giants, and he has led the team to the Central League Championship four times and the Nippon Professional Baseball title twice. He was also named as Japan’s manager for the 2009 World Baseball Classic and guided them to its second straight World Baseball Classic crown. He finished his successful 2009 season by adding more titles, leading the Giants to a 2009 Nippon Series win and the Japan/Korea Club Championship title.

Umpire – Paul Hyham ( Australia)
Hyham is an excellent international umpire with outstanding performances at international competitions. Tournaments he has worked include the IBAF 2007 Asian Olympic Qualification/Asian Championship, the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Member Federation Executive – Juergen Elsishans (German Federation)
As the Vice President of the German Baseball and Softball Federation and the Co-Chairman of the Regensburg Local Organizing Committee for the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup, Elsishans successfully organized the first round of the World Cup in Regensburg. The city hosted record crowds in excess of 5,000 for almost each of the three days of the competition, highlighted by a crowd of almost 10,000 fans for the USA vs. Germany game.

“The IBAF congratulates each of our award winners and the member federations which they represent,” said Schiller. “International baseball has witnessed extraordinary achievements over the past two years, and we look forward to future success stories in the years to come.”

Source: International Baseball Federation (IBAF)

Photo courtesy of FIBS

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