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France national baseball team
Information
Country France
FederationFFBS
ConfederationCEB
ManagerBruce Bochy
WBSC ranking 22 Steady (31 December 2021)[1]
Uniforms
Home
Away
World Cup
Appearances3 (First in 1994)
Best result15th
Intercontinental Cup
Appearances3 (First in 1991)
Best result7th
European Championship
Appearances24 (First in 1955)
Best result 3rd (1 time, in 1999)

The French National Baseball team represents the French Federation of Baseball and Softball in international competitions, such as the World Baseball Classic, the European Baseball Championship, and the World Cup of Baseball. They are currently ranked 25th in the world.[1]

Roster

France roster - 2021 World Baseball Classic Qualification
Players Coaches
Pitchers
  • Jason Alexander
  • Lilian Amoros
  • Donato Auguste
  • Brett Bochy
  • Yoimer Camacho
  • Leonel Céspedes
  • Robyn Clara
  • Marc-André Habeck
  • Yorfrank López
  • Eric Moore
  • James Murrey
  • Rayner Oliveros
  • Owen Ozanich
  • Ismael Pontiac
  • Yoann Vaugelade
Catchers
  • Iván Acuña
  • Dylan Gleeson
  • Andy Paz

Infielders

  • Félix Brown
  • Alen Hanson
  • Ernesto W. Martínez
  • Alexander Perdomo
  • Ariel Soriano
  • Frédéric Walter

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches

  • Joe Bochy (Bench)
  • Keino Pérez (Pitching)
  • Boris Rothermundt (Coach)
  • Steve Smith (First Base)
  • Ron Wotus (Third Base)


History

The history of the French team began in 1929 with their first official game against Spain in Barcelona with a 10–6 victory.[2] The team made its debut in competition in 1955 when it played in the finals of the second European Baseball Championship, finishing fifth out of five teams.[3]

The French team has qualified for the World Cup finals three times, the first time in 1994. In order to qualify for the finals a playoff game was played against South Africa. France lost seven games during the competition, and finished in 16th place out of 16 teams.[4] In 2001, as well as 2003, les Bleus (the nickname of the team) made their way into the World Cup finals. During the 2001 edition the French team finished in 15th place, tied for last with the Philippines. They also finished in 15th place in 2003, out of 15 teams.

In the fall of 2012, France participated in their first World Baseball Classic Qualifier. The team played in the Jupiter, Florida, pool alongside South Africa, Spain, and Israel. France lost both its games to Spain and South Africa.

In September 2013, France named former MLB pitcher Éric Gagné new head coach. The team played a series of trial games in Florida in October 2013 and in Phoenix, Arizona, in March 2014 in preparation for the 2014 European Championships. In early September 2014, France hosted the inaugural France International Baseball Tournament. France won the first exhibition game 8-7 vs. Japan before claiming game 1 6-3 over Belgium and game 2 10-5, again over Japan. "Les Bleus" claimed their first-ever victory over the Netherlands with a 12-8 win on September 8, 2014, before falling 3-2 against the Dutch in the championship game the following night.

Every two years, France participates in the European Baseball Championship. France's best result came in 1999 when the team finished third. The French National team finished 6th in the 2014 European Championships, going 4-1 in Regensburg, GER before falling to Czech Republic, Holland and Spain in the Brno, CZ.

In March 2015 French pitcher Owen Ozanich was France's lone representative on Team Europe, which split two contests at the Tokyo Dome against Samurai Japan.

In July 2015 France sent many of its national team players to participate in the 2015 World University Summer Games in South Korea. Rouen manager Keino Perez was the manager for this competition. France finished in 8th place. Once back in Europe, the national team played a series of games in Antwerp, Belgium, July 23–24 against Sweden and the host country, Belgium. With a 2-0 record, France won the Flanders invitational tournament with Belgium coming in second and Sweden third.

In November and December 2015 Ozanich along with Leonel Cespedes represented France on Team Europe during the Asian Winter League held in Taichung, Taiwan. Cespedes had a 4.50 ERA out of the bullpen. Ozanich led the team in innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA.

The French National Team competed in the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers held in March 2016 in Panama. In game one, Panama beat France behind long-time MLB catcher Carlos Ruiz's two home runs in front of a crowd of over 11,000. In game two, Cespedes pitched France to a victory over European rival Spain at Rod Carew Stadium. The 5-3 victory marked the first win in four tries at the WBC Qualifiers for the French. In the semi-final game, France, led by offensively by first baseman Rene Leveret's home run in the fifth inning, found themselves tied with Panama in the fifth inning, but were not able to close out the game, falling 7-4, ending their hopes of qualifying for the 2017 WBC.

In April 2016 Kieran Mattison replaced Eric Gagne as French National Team Manager. On July 16, 2016 the FFBS hosted its first-ever All-Star Game in La Rochelle, won by the French League Foreign All-Stars by a score of 12-7 over the French National Team. Prior to the game, French national team shortstop Felix Brown won the first annual home run derby.

In September 2016, the French Federation hosted the second edition of the France International Baseball Tournament (also known as the Yoshida Challenge), featuring France, Germany, Netherlands, and International Stars. France finished in third place behind Germany and the Netherlands. France finished in 7th place in the 2016 European Championships which were held in Hoofddorp, NL. They beat Croatia, Greece, and Sweden, while falling to Italy, Belgium, and Spain. Third baseman Maxime Lefevre hit .500 for the tournament while P/OF Leonel Cespedes posted a 2-0 record with a 0.64 ERA.

French pitchers Owen Ozanich and Marc-Andre Habeck represented France at the 2016 Asian Winter League with Team Europe.

In July 2017 French/Cuban 1B/OF Ernesto Martinez Jr. signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for $880,000, the largest-ever bonus for a French player. The big lefty served as France's designated hitter at just 16 years old in the 2016 WBC Qualifier where he played alongside his father, Ernesto Martinez Sr. a longtime star in the French D1 for Senart. Through the 2021 MiLB season, Martinez, now 22, has hit .254/.364/.417 with 20 HR, 100 RBI and 41 SB.

In July 2017 the French national team again participated in the annual All-Star Game, again held in La Rochelle, falling 5-1 to the All-Star Team made up of the best foreign players.

In August 2017, the French University team participated in the Summer Universiades in Taipei, Taiwan. The team had a surprise win over the highly favored Chinese Taipei, before falling to Korea and Czech Republic. Overall the team, again coached by Keino Perez finished 7th out of 8.

In November 2018 les bleus, managed by Kieran Mattison, headed to South Africa for a 7-game series against the South African National Team where they went 2-5 in the seven contests held in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. Minor league pitcher Yoan Antonac (Phillies) made his national team debut for France. Jose Paula was named to the all series team where he took home best defensive player for the week, Maxime Lefevre led all players in stolen bases.

The 2019 French season featured a 12-team Division 1, the league previously had 8 teams in the top division prior to this expansion. In late February, the national team held spring training in Tenerife, Spain. Five national team members played in Italy in 2019: Owen Ozanich and Marc-Andre Habeck with Parma (Serie A), Andy Paz with Bologna (Serie A) Leonel Cespedes with Redipuglia (Serie A), and Franklin de la Rosa with Grosseto (Serie B).

In September 2019 the French National Team competed in the 2019 European Championships. Maxime Lefevre led the team with a .435 average, followed by Bastien Dagneau (.429), Andy Paz (.400) and Fred Hanvi (.350). France finished in 7th place, beating Austria, Belgium and Croatia, while falling to Italy, Spain, Israel and Germany. On the mound, Marc-Andre Habeck led France in innings pitched (11.0), Leonel Cespedes logged 7.2, and Owen Ozanich 6.0. Habeck also led the staff in strikeouts (12), ahead of Ozanich (5), Yoann Vaugelade (4) and Franklin de la Rosa (4). Daniel Camou and Lilian Amoros each logged three scoreless innings to lead the staff in ERA.

The FFBS shocked the European baseball community when they announced former San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy would take over as manager of the national team. The announcement came in late 2019, and confirmed rumors that the future hall of fame skipper would lead the team in the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Due to the world wide Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, the WBC qualifiers have been postponed to 2022.

The 2020 French Division 1 season was cancelled on May 6, 2020. French minor leaguers Yoan Antonac and Ernesto Martinez Jr. also had their minor league seasons cancelled due to covid-19. Ariel Soriano (Nettuno) and Owen Ozanich (Parma) played 2020 in Italy. Norbert Jongerius and Robyn Clara played in the Netherlands. [5]

The 2021 French Division 1 season began in June 2021. The French Series saw Perez's Rouen Huskies beat Senart in five games to win their 16th French Title. National team outfielder Martin Vissac took home MVP honors. In early September 2021, the Montpellier Barracudas took home the Challenge de France. Rouen and Montpellier will represent France in the 2022 CEB Cup.

The French national team finished a disappointing 15th (out of 16) in the 2021 European Championships held in Turin, Italy. France lost to Great Britain, Israel, Germany, and Greece. They beat Russia and Slovakia. The team struggled under newly appointed interim manager Keino Perez, who took over for Bochy, who cancelled his trip to Europe over covid concerns. Offensively, only Andy Paz (.364) hit over .300 for a team that hit a collective .167 over 6 games. On the mound, the French did slightly better, with the 32 year-old Ozanich leading the team in innings (10.0) and strikeouts (13) while 17 year-old Mathis Nayral allowed just 1 run over 7.1 IP (1.23 ERA) while punching out 7 batters. Outfielder Jose Paula also contributed on the mound, giving up 2 ER in 5.0 IP, striking out 9.

France will now look ahead to 2022, where they will need to win the 'B' pool qualifier in order to again participate in the 2023 European Championships.

Results

France U22 team, runner-up of the 2006 U22 European Championship.
France U22 team, runner-up of the 2006 U22 European Championship.
World Baseball Classic record Qualification record
Year Host(s) Round Position W L RS RA Host W L RS RA
2006 Did not enter No qualifiers held
2009 Did not enter No qualifiers held
2013 Did not qualify United States 0 2 2 13
2017 Did not qualify Panama 1 2 11 19
Total 0/4 1 4 13 32

Baseball World Cup

Intercontinental Cup

European Baseball Championship

French players in professional baseball

French national team players who have played professional baseball:

References

  1. ^ a b "The WBSC World Ranking". WBSC. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  2. ^ Peter C. Bjarkman, Diamonds around the globe, Wesport (CT), Greenwood Press, 2005, p.355, ISBN 0313322686
  3. ^ honkbalsite.com – European Championship – 1955 Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ honkbalsite.com – World Cup – 1994 Archived 20 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ mister-baseball.com