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Barcelona, 5 Aug 1992. CUB-TPE 11-1 final. Credit: Getty Images/Bob Martin

Baseball's stature in the history of the United States is perhaps reflected more clearly in a simple dictionary rather than in the seven-centimetre-thick baseball encyclopaedia.

There, you can find the word Ruthian, meaning "of mammoth proportions", as in a home run by Babe Ruth back in the 1920s. There, you can find Lou Gehrig's disease, as the incurable degenerative illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been better known since Lou Gehrig, Ruth's team-mate, died from it in the 1940s. In the United States, baseball and the English language are interwoven.

However, just as the game did not begin as a wholly US enterprise, it did not end the 20th century as one either. Baseball's all-time home-run champion is a man named Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 during a legendary career in baseball-mad Japan. The national team of Cuba overpowered the Baltimore Orioles of the US major leagues 12-6 in a 1999 exhibition game.

American baseball became a full medal sport in Barcelona in 1992.


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