Back in October of 1963, Europhon Milan traveled all the way to Barcelona to take on Picadero Damm in the very first European Champions Cup. It was a tournament that was lost to the Spanish team, but as the years went on and the tournament matured, it has been Italians that have dominated the event by winning 31 of 49 titles (Italy 31, Holland 12, Spain 4, not counted in this is San Marino – member of the IBL, with 2 EU Championship).
Back in the day when Milan was one of the dominant teams in Italy/Europe they hoisted the champions cup a total of three times, 69, 70 and 71. The club from Lombardia also found themselves facing off for the title in the 63, 66, and 72 tournaments, but finished as runners up in all three. Despite Milan’s early and frequent presents in the finals of this prestigious event, they were however not the first Italian club to walk away with the title.. that was Nettuno back in 65, as they snapped the 2 year winning streak of the Spaniards when they beat the Holland club, Sparta-Feyenoord in the finals. The coastal club from central Italy went onto take 6 more crowns to their name as they years went on to win in 72, 74, 91, 97, 08, and their most resent one coming 09, as Nettuno took back to back European Championships with a win over Bologna.
The Italian team that has taken the EU title more then anyone else in the whole of Europe is the historical club from Parma. 13 times in all the “Parmigianini” have claimed name to the cup, with the most recent one coming back in 99. Although Parma hasn’t taken the title in 14 years (including this year) they did make an appearance in the championship game against San Marino in 2011 when the final was held in Brno, Czech Republic. On a side note, it’s going to be more then a few years before any one club will be able to touch the 13 trophies that Parma has on display at their stadium, Nettuno and the Neptunus (Holland) being the next closest, 6 off of Parma’s pace.
From the club that has won the most titles out of Italy, Parma, to the club that has been to the title game on three separate occasions, winning it all once, Grosseto. For a string of years in the middle of this century’s first decade, Grosseto was a force to be reckoned with. The ballclub from Tuscany took the Italian title back in 2004 and in 2007 all well filling their stadium with thousands of cheering fans. In between these two championships the club also brought home the European continental title in 2005 when they beat the Holland club, HCAW in Rotterdam, Holland. It was tournaments 43rd addition and the one and only time the city of Grosseto saw their team win the cup.
Before moving onto speak about this years two finalist we need to not forget about the Republic of San Marino. Although San Marino is a republic and not officially apart of Italy, the one and only team that can be found on the mountain in Emilia Romagna is T&A, a club that makes up one of the ten teams in which participate in the Italian Baseball League. As said before Italian clubs have dominated the European Champions Cup since it’s beginning back in 63, winning 31 of the 49 titles. The 31 Italian titles however do not count the 2 that San Marino has won, 2006 and 2011. So all-in-all when you add up the numbers and tweak the category form countries to leagues, the teams that play in the IBL have really won an impressive 33 cups, which will turn to 34 by the end of the weekend when a winner between this years finals matchup of Bologna and Rimini is determined.
Last but not at all the least we will speak about the two clubs that will face off for this years European title over the weekend, Unipol Bologna and the Rimini Pirates. Both clubs are no rookies to this event as Rimini has taken the cup three times in nine finals appearances, while the city of Bologna has performed slightly better with four championships to their name (two of the four coming within the last three years). It should be an exciting weeks end when both these clubs face off in the best of 3 series which begins on Thursday in Bologna (Bologna Thursday, Rimini Friday and Saturday if necessary). Will it be back to back or is it Rimini’s turn to begin a sting championships.