Monday :: Dec 29, 2008

A Baseball Story

by eriposte

I'm going to take a brief detour from the usual policy/politics stuff today to link you up with an interesting story. It is a story that reflects the changes happening in India, especially vis-a-vis the United States. India's number one sport is cricket and it has one of the strongest cricket teams in the world today. Unlike the U.S., though, India does not have a baseball team and baseball is barely known in India. That is about to change.

Om Malik, the technology journalist who is behind one of the most influential technology blogs in the US GigaOm, recently wrote this piece in his personal blog Om.Is.Me - an excerpt:

Apparently others dreamed of finding baseball talent in India, one of them being Ash Vasudevan, who is a successful technology entrepreneur who has become a friend over past few years. Last year he informed me about The Million Dollar Arm, a TV reality show that was essentially looking for the first Indian pitcher. To make a long story short, they found two – Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. The baseball rookies came to America, and recently signed a minor league contract with Pittsburg Pirates.

What a great story that was captured by ESPN’s Outside The Lines show this weekend. I hope you enjoy the clip. I am a Yankee Fan, but for now I cheer the Pittsburg Pirates. (Check out Rinku and Dinesh’s blog.)

[Bruce Reed, chief of the DLC, also has an article at Slate on this topic. NPR had a story last month. Here is some coverage at Big League Stew - a blog at Yahoo Sports.]

Since a good friend of mine is closely involved in this effort, I got an opportunity to meet both Rinku and Dinesh earlier this year. Their story is fascinating. They are both very young men from very poor families in rural India. They had never heard about or watched, let alone played, baseball in their lives until The Million Dollar Arm contest. Neither of them knew English when they arrived in the U.S. and they had never set foot outside India (probably even their own village) previously. The language and culture change has been pretty vast for them. ESPN's short video is embedded below - it is well worth watching for more background on The Million Dollar Arm contest, on Rinku and Dinesh and how they impressed some coaches and got picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates after some grueling training sessions at USC. Sure, the Pirates aren't exactly a great team today but this is the first time that a U.S. baseball team has signed a contract with rookies from India and it is likely a sign of things to come.

Rinku and Dinesh have been writing (in broken English) about their experiences in the U.S. on their blog. They will soon make history as the first Indians to play professional baseball in the U.S.

eriposte :: 8:05 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!