If you gather the most talented baseball players from all around the world and pit their countries against one another in a tournament, they will come. OK, so that might not be as catchy as the popular "Field of Dreams" quote, but baseball fans have come out in droves to support the World Baseball Classic this year.
More than one million fans attended first-round games, according to MLB. The first round of the tournament drew 1,010,999 fans, making it the highest-attended round in WBC history. That figure shattered the previous record for attendance, which was 510,056, set during the 2017 tournament.
Fans at Japan's Tokyo Dome were the most excited about the event. The first-round games at the Tokyo Dome set a record for fans at a venue for a single round of the tournament, with 361,976, and the highest average attendance ever in the first or second round, with 36,198 fans per game.
The United States also saw a huge increase in attendance. In Miami, 295,850 fans came out to watch Pool D games, a record for WBC attendance in the U.S. And the Mexico-USA game at Chase Field in Phoenix set the record for most attended first-round WBC game, with 47,534 fans.
Viewership is up as well. The Japan-Korea game drew a 44.4 rating in Japan, a higher rating than any sport featured in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Korea and the Dominican Republic all saw significant increases in viewership numbers for the 2023 WBC as well.
In addition to all that, fans already broke the record for most WBC merchandise sold. Anything purchased during the quarterfinals will add to that record, which, like everything else associated with the 2023 World Baseball Classic, is presumably on pace to be shattered.