Pesäpallo, the Finnish name for Finnish baseball, is very popular. It’s played at schools especially in spring time. Many schools arrange matches where teachers play against pupils. However, the season really peaks in the summer as the Finnish Champion League games are played. These games are very popular and people bet on the winners.
The idea of the game is similar to baseball, but the game is easier as the ball is pitched vertically. One team tries to score by hitting the ball and running through the bases, the other team tries to defend by catching the ball and putting the runners out.
The game was developed by Lauri “Tahko” Pihkala in the 1920’s. He used an older Finnish game and the American baseball as foundations for his new sport. Finns had it as a demonstration sport in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, but it didn’t gain much attention. There aren’t many other countries that play this game. The fact that Finns have won all nine pesäpallo world cups sums it up nicely. However, the next championships will be arranged in India in November 2019 and this may change the situation.
It’s very likely that there will be a new record in the number of attending countries. India, Finland, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, USA, and Germany will hopefully all be present again but new participants Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Romania will probably join the World Cup family too.
As long as there are no serious competitors for Finns in pesäpallo, the national league will remain more important for Finns than the world cup. The Finnish championship series is known as Superpesis. Both men and women compete in their own series. Altogether there are 14 teams in the men’s league and 11 in the women’s league. Sotkamon Jymy has gained most championships over the years, but other teams are good as well.
Apart from the regular teams, perhaps the most important games are the East-West games played in the beginning of July. In these games, the best players of eastern Finland will play against the western Finnish players. This year, the Itä-Länsi games will take place in Seinäjoki between 5th and 7th July, 2019. The tickets cost 40-60 euros. More than 4 000 people are expected to come and enjoy the games. Get tickets here.
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