1999 Pan American Games
The 1999 Pan American Games were historic in that they were the first Pan American Games to feature professional players. Many teams capitalized, sending former major leaguers or top minor league prospects. The hometown Team Canada had one of their best tournaments ever, winning their first medal ever in the Pan American Games. Despite the best record in the tournament and wins against the top two clubs, they just missed qualifying for the 2000 Olympics as only the top two teams made it. The Games marked a significant challenge to the Cuban national team, who won their 8th straight Pan American title despite a 2-2 first round. It marked a stark contrast from their 1995 Pan American Games romp over amateur competition and posed their toughest Pan Am Games since at least 1987.
The 1999 Pan American Games were also the first international event in over two decades to use wood bats.
Round One, Pool A
- Canada, 4-0
- USA, 3-1
- Cuba, 2-2
- Mexico, 1-3
- Brazil, 0-4
Round One, Pool B
- Dominican Republic, 2-1
- Nicaragua, 2-1
- Panama, 2-1
- Guatemala, 0-3
- Cuba def. Dominican Republic, 3-1. Jose Contreras is the mound ace.
- Canada def. Guatemala, 12-2. A home run by Ryan Radmanovich lands in the street outside CanWest Global Park.
- Mexico def. Nicaragua, 5-1
- USA def. Panama, 5-2. John Patterson throws a no-hitter for five innings and allows only two hits in 8; one was a homer by Freddy Herrera after Orlando Miller reached on a miscue by Patterson. Craig Paquette's homer off of Len Picota in the fifth is the big blow for the Americans.
- Cuba def. Canada, 3-2. Canada jumped to a 2-0 lead but Cuban legend Omar Linares cracked a 3-run homer off of Mike Meyers in the third inning. Norge Vera, Jose Ibar and Pedro Luis Lazo made the lead hold on by shutting down Canada for its only loss of the tournament. An anti-Fidel Castro protester rushed the field in the 9th inning, causing a rattled Ibar to be yanked in favor of Lazo.
- USA def. Mexico, 2-1. In another dramatic duel, a near-upset falls short. The US needs 10 innings to top the 2-3 Mexicans and advance to the 2000 Olympics. Mark Mulder issues a fine start to counter Tavo Alvarez. Dan Wheeler tosses four hitless innings to pick up the win, while Vicente Palacios does a solid job until the 10th, when Mike Neill (pinch-hitting for Gookie Dawkins) singles in Marcus Jensen with the winner.
Gold Medal Game
- Cuba def. USA, 5-1. Contreras comes back on one day's rent to strike ouf 13 and allow only 4 hits and a run in 8 innings of work. Maels Rodriguez adds three more strikeouts in a hitless 9th inning as the US bats come up empty. Brad Penny takes the loss, failing to make it through the fifth inning. Veteran first baseman Orestes Kindelan goes 3 for 4 with two home runs to power the Canadians.
Bronze Medal Game
- Canada def. Mexico, 9-2. Andy Stewart hits his 4th home run, Todd Betts and Matt Logan each drive in two and Jason Gooding works 6 1/3 innings, fanning 7, for the victory to give Canada its first Medal ever in the Pan American Games.
- Brazil was clearly the worst team of the tournament, being outscored 39-7 in going 0-4. They were the only team eliminated in round-robin play.
- Canada was paced by catcher Andy Stewart, who hit .452 with a tourney-high 4 home runs and 15 RBI to help the home team lead in runs. Other key hitters were DH Troy Fortin (.407), OF Ryan Radmanovich (.391), DH-1B Jeremy Ware (.375), 2B Stubby Clapp (.348), SS Lee Delfino (.348) and 3B Todd Betts (.345, 9 RBI). Steve Green (1-0, 0.00) picked up the stunning round-robin win against Cuba while Yan LaChapelle (2-0, 3.27), Mike Meyers (1-1, 2.45) and Jason Gooding (1-0, 2.84) rounded out the rotation.
- Cuba overcame their round-robin struggles to take their usual Gold. Kindelan hit .214 and Linares .160 but the team's two biggest stars wielded the big bats in the semifinals and Gold Medal game. Ariel Pestano (.333) and Isaac Martinez (.409) had the best averages for Cuba. Jose Contreras (2-0, 0.98) clearly led the staff, which got fine work from Pedro Luis Lazo (1.13), Norge Vera (1-0, 2.25) and Jose Ibar (1-0, 1.74). Danys Báez, a young reliever who had joined the team for the first time, defected during the tournament and would later have a 40-save season in the major leagues.
- The Dominican Republic outscored opponents 21-12, but their quarterfinal loss to Cuba and Contreras knocked them out of the running. Francisco Matos (.529) and Pablo Ozuna (.500) had the top two averages of the tournament while Dario Perez (1-1, 0.75) finished third in ERA.
- Guatemala was outscored 36-9 and was 0-4, slightly better than Brazil.
- Mexico had outscored the opposition 19-16 entering the Bronze Medal game but wound up without a medal. The extra-inning loss to Team USA in the semifinals had cost them their chance at making the Olympics for the first time. Hector Alvarez (.440) led the offense while Tavo Alvarez (1-0, 0.66) finished second in the competition in ERA and nearly beat The Americans in the semifinals. Narciso Elvira (1-1, 0.82) was 4th in the tourney in ERA.
- Nicaragua won their pool despite scoring as much as their opponents (11 runs). Edgard Lopez (.308) proved to be their top hitter.
- Panama finished 2-2, led on the mound by veteran Len Picota (0-1, 3.60) while Julio Mosquera (.436) and Joel Vega (.357) hit effectively. Orlando Miller hit one of the tournament's two triples.
- Team USA overcame the stiff semifinal challenge from Mexico to make it to the Olympics (leading them to the Gold eventually) before falling as usual to Cuba. Adam Kennedy led the team in average (.367) while Marcus Jensen (.300) was second in the tournament with 3 home runs and drove in 9. Ryan Anderson (1-0, 0.00 in 7 IP), John Patterson (1-0, 1.39) and Mark Mulder (1-0, 1.42) were the top pitchers while Brad Penny (0-1, 6.75) was their least-effective starting pitcher.