The Most Popular Baseball Teams in Greece
Since ancient times, Greece has played a pivotal role in the development of sports. In fact, we have to thank the Greeks for the modern Olympic Games. They have been inspired by the Greek Olympics that were organized more than 2.700 years ago.
Baseball gained popularity in Greece starting with the year 2000. Some of the events that eventually led to the establishment of the current Greek baseball league are worthy of a movie.
Greece and baseball have quite a long history together. Many Greek-American baseball players were competing in the United States at a professional level since the 1930’s. In fact, some of the greatest players in American baseball, worthy to be mentioned in the Hall of Fame, have Greek roots.
Although the game of baseball has been played in Greece for more than 70 years, it was only in 1997 that the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation or HABF was founded. The purpose was to get ready for the 2004 Summer Olympics scheduled to take place in Athens. For this exact reason, the first Greek baseball league was founded to create a Greek Olympic national baseball team that would be able to compete at a professional level. This was made possible thanks to the funds coming from Peter Angelos, the owner of Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, because some key players were unable to participate in the Olympics, the Greek national baseball team ended up taking the 7th place in the event. However, something good came out of this, as the Greek baseball league remained.
The league started its inaugural season in 2000 and had 6 teams participating in the event. The champion’s title was won that year by Marousi 2004, a baseball team from Athens. By 2004, 20 baseball teams were competing in the Greek men’s league and things seemed to move in the right direction. However, due to lack of funds and no support from the Greek government and Ministry of Sports, the number of active Greek baseball clubs drastically diminished. By 2006, only 8 clubs were competing in the Greek Baseball League: Aris Baseball Club, Milonas Neas Smyrnis, Eyriali Glyfadas, Dias Patron, Olympiada Peristeriou, Panathinaikos, Marousi 2004 and Leaders Vouliagmenis. Most clubs managed to stay active through sponsorships and personal contributions.
During 2000 – 2014, the Greek baseball championship was organized each year. The sole exception was in 2008 when the competition was not held. A regular season started in March and ended in November when the finals were played. The games were scheduled to take place exclusively on weekends.
Two Greek baseball clubs have dominated the Greek baseball league championship since its beginnings: Marousi 2004 and Spartakos Glyfadas. Each won the champion title six times. Other teams worth mentioning are the Pantheres Patras, that won the title in 2010 and Panathinaikos B.C., the current champions.
In 2014, the Greek government decided to abolish the Greek Baseball Federation due to lack of active clubs. This decision has put a stop to the current efforts of making baseball recognized as a major sport in Greece. However, we hope this setback is only temporary as there are an increasing number of Greek baseball fans both in Greece as well as in the United States.