1978 Amateur World Series
The 1978 Amateur World Series was the 25th Amateur World Series. it was held from August 25 through September 6, 1978. It was held in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna and Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, all cities in Italy. It was the first Amateur World Series held in the Eastern Hemisphere since 1938. While only one of the first 24 Amateur World Series was held in the Eastern Hemisphere, 1978 marked a turning point as 9 of the next 13 9 (from 1980 through 2009) would be held in either Europe or Asia. The Series also added the 6th continent to appear in an Amateur World Series, with the debut of Australia. Belgium joined the Aussies as newcomers to the event.
Cuba won, as usual, going 10-0, with a run differential of 86-13. They edged Japan 3-2 and the USA 5-3 but otherwise had no close games. They were managed by Servio Borges. Key performers at the plate were DH Agustín Marquetti (.450/.500/.850, 8 R in 6 G), RF Luis Casanova (.444/.500/.806, 12 R, 8 RBI in 10 games, 2nd in the tourney in average), CF Fernando Sánchez (.432/.475/.784, 11 R, the tourney leader with 5 doubles and co-leader with 16 hits) and SS Pedro Jova (.421/.450/.474), but the best bat of all belonged to 1B Antonio Muñoz (.406/.487/1.188, 8 HR, 14 R, 18 RBI in 10 games. Muñoz won MVP honors while setting a new Amateur World Series home run record; he also led the tournament in RBI and tied for the most runs. Almost all the pitchers were excellent with fine efforts by Rogelio García (1-0, 0.00, 15 K, 3 H in 11 IP), Juan Carlos Oliva (2-0, 0.00), Lázaro Santana (2-0, 0.69), Julio Romero (1-0, 1.00) and Braudilio Vinent (3-0, 1.80, 26 K in 25 IP). Vinent tied for third in wins and was 4th in strikeouts.
United States took Silver at 9-1, losing only to Cuba. They had a 77-20 run differential. They were managed by Tom Chandler and coached by Bill Arce, Ben Hines and Demie Mainieri. The big hitters were SS Jerry Desimone (.333/.415/.528), DH-LF Terry Francona (.350/.366/.550), LF Mike Hurdle (.320/.452/.520, 8 R in 8 games), 2B Howie Shapiro (.333/.487/.500, 9 BB) and 3B Tim Wallach (.395/.455/.763, 14 R, 14 RBI). Wallach was second in the Series in RBI, tied for second in runs and tied Antonio Muñoz for the most runs. The US mainly rode the arms of Mike Kinnunen (3-0, 0.45, 9 H in 20 IP) and Mark Thurmond (3-0, 0.00, 12 H, 22 K in 25 IP) though the staff featured other future big leaguers in Atlee Hammaker (0 R in 2 IP), Tim Leary (1-1, 2.41) and Ed Vande Berg (1-0, 1.23). Kinnunen led the event in shutouts (2) and tied for third in wins. Thurmond led in ERA, tied for third in wins and was 5th in strikeouts.
South Korea was only making its second appearance, but they won Bronze with a 8-2 record. They had to scrape for it, winning by a single run against both Japan and Italy. Their run differential was 52-34, far more modest than the USA or Cuba. Their manager was Eung-yong Kim. The big performer was workhorse Dong-won Choi (4-2, Sv, 2.97, 45 K, 17 H in 33 1/3 IP), who had over half their decisions and pitched in 7 of their 10 games. Choi tied for the Series lead in wins and saves and led in strikeouts. He would be named Korea Baseball Organization MVP six years later. Ho-kyun Lim (2-0, 0.87) also pitched well. The offense was led by DH Hae-chong Park (.361/.410/.417) and LF Il-kwon Kim (.317/.364/.463, 9 R, 12 RBI, 8 SB in 10 games). Kim tied for 5th in RBI. Shi-jin Kim (1-0, 3.73) struck out 29 in 31 1/3 IP to finish third in Ks. Future KBO career average leader Hyo-jo Jang was just 3 for 21 (albeit with 7 walks) as the starting right fielder.
Japan fell to 4th, in between Bronze Medals in 1976 and 1980. They scored 77 and allowed 20 runs while going 7-3. Key hitters were RF Kyoichi Kikuchi (.231/.323/.654, tied for 4th with 3 HR), CF Mitsugu Kobayashi (.424/.558/.455, 13 R, 5th in the Series in average, a tourney-high 13 SB without getting caught stealing once), 1B Hiromitsu Ochiai (.265/.413/.529, 9 BB, tied for 3rd with 13 RBI) and 2B Shigeki Saito (.433/.514/.467, 11 R, third in the Series in average). Yasuyuki Yamamoto threw a 7-inning perfect game against Belgium in his only game, whiffing 16. Shigekazu Mori went 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA; in 32 2/3 IP, he allowed 11 hits and struck out 40. He tied for the most wins, was 5th in ERA and second in strikeouts in the Series. Isamu Kida would go on to a fine career but at 1-1, 2.30 was below average for the squad.
Nicaragua tied for 5th at 5-5 with a run differential of 48-38. They only beat Italy and Australia by one run and their lone rout was 19-0 over the hapless Belgians. Julio Espinoza (1-0, 1.25) led the staff while Cesar Monge no-hit Belgium; future big leaguer Porfi Altamirano was 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA. 2B-3B Roberto Espino (.500/.600/.563) had the best average of the Series and tied for the most hits (16). LF Ernesto Lopez (.237/.341/.579, 9 RBI, 4 HR) tied for second in homers. CF David Green (.310/.341/.542, 9 R) would go on to the major leagues.
Italy was a good host, tying for 5th at 5-5. They were outscored 36-35. Future Italian Baseball Hall of Fame member Giorgio Castelli hit .314/.415/.486 and 1B/C Carlos Guzman batted .458/.458/.750. Future Olympian Michele Romano (2-0, 0.00) led a fine staff that produced a 2.19 cumulative ERA; unfortunately, they also allowed 15 unearned runs due to some defensive gaffes.
Netherlands placed 7th at 4-6. They were outscored 63-51. SS Charles Urbanus Jr. (.308/.341/.462) was their top hitter, while OF Ben Richardson (.231/.250/.462) tied for third in RBI (13) and tied for 4th in homers (3). Bertil Haage (2-1, 1 R, 0 ER in 8 2/3 IP) led the staff. Future Hoofdklasse career win leader Bart Volkerijk struggled (1-1, 8.06, 32 H, 15 BB in 22 1/3 IP). The team also included one of the first Dutch players to appear in the minors, Martin Ronnenbergh (0-2, 7.27).
Canada tied for 9th with a 2-8 record. They were outscored 52-32, hitting only .168/.285/.234 as a team and beating only the two newcomers to the event. C Mike Teahen (.250/.256/.444) led the team with 2 HR and 9 RBI; his son Mark would go to the major leagues. Scott Bailey had a 0.64 ERA but walked 17 in 14 innings.
Australia was outscored 54-23 and tied for 9th at 2-8. Their staff walked 51 in 82 innings and the batters hit .225. SS-DH Graham Ward hit .378/.378/.541 as the bright spot offensively while Alan Albury was 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA, the loss coming 3-1 to the powerful Cuban squad.
Belgium was clearly outclassed in their first Amateur World Series, going 0-10. They were outscored 133-5 and no-hit twice. The batters hit a cumulative .126/.193/.146. The fielders made 35 errors for a .896 fielding percentage. The staff allowed 149 hits and had a 11.70 ERA in 72 1/3 IP. Their closest game was a 6-2 loss to Canada.