2004 Athens Summer Olympics : 10 Year Anniversary
It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago this month was the start of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. It actually started in early August, but I moved to Athens with my wife and teenage kids in tow the first week of July. We look back on the Olympic experience of 2004 often and this year is special. A lot has changed since 2004. It was the year after 9/11 and the security flying internationally was at its all time high. Even the security for the games was the most it has ever been.
I was fortunate to see my boys volunteer as batboys and my daughter volunteer with the sports presentation team. The friendships made during this event continue 10 years later not only for me but for them as well. Angelos Dimitripolis, competition manager made it all possible. Along with Panos Mistup0lis President of the greek federation and Tom Mazarakis. Our operation and management team was composed of a few Americans from Brickman Sportsturf and hundreds of local and international volunteers.
The complex was composed of 4 natural grass baseball fields and 2 softball fields. They were constructed in 2002-3 at the same time using the same materials and grass. We were involved in the design and construction of all the fields working closely with IBAF’s Miquel Ortin and President Aldo Notari . We developed some pretty nice baseball and softball fields for the competition. The volunteers made this event so great. Just to many friends to name them all but via social media we still chat on facebook and twitter. Our field staff was great. Hats off to the Josh, Cindy, Dave , Budge and for softball Rick and Darrell. As for the games, Cuba was the gold medal winner with australia taking silver and japan the bronze.
I recently returned to Athens back in 2012 to do an inventory on the fields and some of the unused equipment. The Softball fields were rough but 2 of the baseball fields are still used by the federation. Tom M. and his team take care of the fields and do a great job with what they have . After the Olympic games they put a lot of unused equipment in storage. A pretty cool story that has not been told revolves around how MLB, USA baseball, The Greek federation and the IBAF worked together to purchase a lot of the unused equipment and spread it around europe to help grow the game. Even though it was 8 years old it was still in great condition. The greek federation used the funds from the sale to cover travel and lodging to compete in the 2012 European Championships that year. Just think, After 8 years the Olympic event in Athens was still helping to grow the game.
Our World baseball softball confederation WBSC led by President Fracarri is leading the charge for our sports return to the Olympics in 2020. Make sure you support your local federations and spread the word about baseball and softball.