In recent years we've seen quite an influx of international players in Major League Baseball, with most of the players coming from the Oriental countries of Asia. You have your Daisukes, your Ichiros, your Fukudomes, and your Wangs along with many other players from Japan and Korea. The newest Japanese import will be pitcher Junichi Tazawa who is already getting interest from the Boston Red Sox.
Of course, Major League teams are now scouting the Far East pretty regularly in search of the newest import superstar. If you live in any other part of Asia and want to play baseball in the big leagues, you have to cross the Pacific Ocean first, which is exactly what two kids from India have done, with a little help along the way.
Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, two 19-year-olds from small villages in India, desperately want to live the American dream. Their shot at it is a decidedly improbable one.
They had never picked up a baseball until a year ago. Thursday, they will pitch in front of major league scouts in Tempe, Ariz., in hopes of landing a professional baseball contract.The two kids had never even seen a baseball game, let alone played the sport, before Jeff Bernstein ran a "million dollar arm" contest in India, and Singh won the contest. He got $2,500 (so why wasn't it called the $2,500 Arm Contest?) and an all expense paid trip to the United States where he got to work with Tom House, and he brought Patel with him.
"This is the most amazing thing I've been part of," says Tom House, University of Southern California pitching coach and former major league pitcher, who has spent the last six months training the duo.
"This is like medical science. It's turning raw athletes into pitchers. You wouldn't believe how far they've come."
Now, this Thursday, the duo will be working out in front of scouts from 20 Major League teams and have a shot to sign an actual contract. It seems like a long shot, but then again, I wasn't sure I'd live to see the day we elected a black man to be President in this country either, and we all know how that turned out.