FIBS President Andrea Marcon believes Haarlem Week will be Team Italy's best baseball tourney in 2022

FIBS President Andrea Marcon believes Haarlem Week will be Team Italy's best baseball tourney in 2022
With Team Italy participating in the 30th edition of Haarlem Week in the Netherlands, Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball President Andrea Marcon expects the high level of international competition will provide insight on the caliber of talent the Azzurri squad possesses before the 2023 World Baseball Classic

National Baseball Hall of Famer and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza will be front and center at Haarlem Week, which will take place from July 8-15, 2022 at the Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem, the Netherlands. His Azzurri baseball squad will be among the elite baseball nations of host Kingdom of the Netherlands, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Cuba and USA. Haarlem Week director Léon Ravestein said, "It will be a great baseball party, and we wanted to celebrate our 30th anniversary by inviting the biggest names in the game to field their best possible teams. The road to securing the participation of the six national teams has been a long and stressful one, but as director of the tournament I am sincerely proud of the result and grateful that the federations of the participating countries have given us the platform to showcase the best baseball in Europe."

Inaugurated in 1961, Haarlem Week has always provided a forum for baseball's strongest national teams to compete. USA has participated in the international tourney 14 times and has captured the gold six times, while Cuba has won five times, Kingdom of the Netherlands and Japan have taken the top prize four times, and Canada, Netherlands Antilles and Great Britain have experienced gold once. Team Italy has reached only as high as bronze medal status (1972) in its previous five gold medal attempts at Haarlem Week. However, the Azzurri squad believes the sixth time is the charm to fare better than ever.

FIBS President Andrea Marcon said, "Even without the cancellation of the Super Six, Haarlem Week would have been the key event of 2022. I expect a very high level of play. I would like to express my appreciation to all the clubs for allowing the players to participate. Above all, it will allow us to prepare for next year's World Baseball Classic."

Both in 2004 and in 2018 the Azzurri finished in fifth place with two wins and three losses. Eighteen years ago with Davide Dallospedale being crowned the best hitter of the tournament, Team Italy manager Giampiero Faraone led the Azzurri squad to victories over the Reno Astros (USA) and Kingdom of the Netherlands but lost to Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba. The last time Team Italy participated in the tourney Azzurri manager Gilberto Gerali enjoyed victories over Cuba and Germany but suffered heartbreak losses to Japan, Chinese Taipei and Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Defending Haarlem Week champion Japan as well as 2018 champion Chinese Taipei will field teams from its best university squads. Cuba will most likely feature a roster from its national team as well as the top players from Alazanes de Granma and other Cuban league stars. After a long absence, USA will return to Haarlem Week with a group of the best college players. Team Italy and host Kingdom of the Netherlands will rely on its national squads to battle baseball's elite countries. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti

(Photo of the official logo for the 30th Haarlem Week)