While America celebrated Independence Day on July 4, 2020, Italy rejoiced with the return of baseball and softball to its diamonds. Four months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in one of the hardest hit areas in Europe, Codogno Mayor Francesco Passerini hosted a press conference at the Palazzo Soave with FIBS President Andrea Marcon, Seniors National Baseball Pitching Coach Bill Holmberg, and Team Italy Softball All-Stars Marta Gasparotto and Greta Cecchetti prior the first pitch being thrown between Piacenza and Codogno on July 4, 2020.
Holding t-shirts proclaiming "We are all champions" (#siamotutticampioni) with the Italian flag proudly embedded in the center, the panelists spoke with masks on in front of a socially-distanced audience. Codogno Mayor Francesco Passerini thanked FIBS President Andrea Marcon and the Codogno Baseball organization and paid homage to all the doctors who battled on the front line to save lives during this medical emergency. FIBS President Andrea Marcon acknowledged all those who made this special day possible, including all the managers, coaches, athletes, and umpires. He shared the enouraging news that the return of the Italian youth championships would bring an additional 600 boys and girls who would otherwise not be attracted to baseball and softball. FIBS President Andrea Marcon confirmed Italy's bid to host the European Baseball Championship in 2021, a year in which the Italians have already secured hosting rights for the the U18 European Baseball Championship as well as the Women's European Softball Championship and the Women's European Cup Winners Cup.
Bill Holmberg, playing a key role as the right-hand man for Team Italy manager Mike Piazza, spoke on behalf of the Azzurri management staff and informed attendees of his yearning to return to the field and to put into effect a new era for Italian baseball in the near future. Then Olympic-bound Marta Gasparotto and Greta Cecchetti, representing the Team Italy softball squad, reaffirmed their commitment to make the Azzurre proud next year with a big effort in the Tokyo Olympics under the leadership of manager Enrico Obletter.
FIBS President Andrea Marcon also officially announced the withdrawl of Neptuno 2 from Serie A1 Baseball, which consists of six teams (Fortitudo Bologna, Parma, Collecchio, San Marino, Godo, and Macerata). In light of the last minute changes, the following guidelines have been adopted: all six teams play in the same division; all games are seven innings in length; each team plays each other three times, one game at home and two games away, or vice versa, in the same week; game one is played on Wednesday night, while games two and three are played as a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon/evening unless both teams agree to play on Friday and Saturday nights instead; only Italian pitchers can be used on the mound in game two; the top four teams at the end of the regular season will compete in the semifinals, a best-of-five game series; the winners of the semifinals qualify for the Italian Baseball Series, a best-of-seven game series scheduled from September 17-27, 2020); the three teams that do not qualify for the semifinals will play each other to determine the top two squads that will compete against the two losing teams from the semifinals in the Italian Cup Final Four.
In Italian softball news, it was disclosed that Caserta has decided not to participate in Serie A1 Softball this season, and the Italian Softball Series will be played from October 3-11, 2020 in a best-of-five game series. To watch all the baseball and softball action streaming live in Italy, tune in to FIBSTV.com Forza #Italia! #siamotutticampioni
by Roberto Angotti