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Why only cricket, why not baseball?

Friday, 17 November 2006 - 10:50pm IST
Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Jeff Brueggemann is surprised that for a country of 1.1 billion, there’s just one popular sport.

Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Jeff Brueggemann is surprised that for a country of 1.1 billion, there’s just one popular sport.

 

MUMBAI: He has a bucketful of reasons on why baseball should be played in cricket-crazy India. And Jeff Brueggemann, a former pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, expects to be asked that question over and over again.

 

“Your country has a population of around 1.1 billion and just one popular sport (read cricket)! There’s so much room for other sports to grow,” Brueggemann begins. “It was only today that I read that women’s boxing is growing in India. If that can grow, then why not baseball?”

 

Brueggemann is in India with David Palese, an assistant coach at New York’s Rochester University, as part of Major League Baseball International’s (MLBI) envoy programme, wherein players and coaches across India will be coached in baseball. In Mumbai, Brueggemann and Palese are holding a two-day workshop for school kids and coaches at the American School of Bombay and both have found hope in the fact that baseball has so many similarities with cricket.

 

“Indians have a good hand-eye coordination, are intelligent. All this because they play cricket. These are the qualities one needs to play baseball,” Brueggemann says. “Baseball is a very simple game played by simple people. Last year, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the MLB World Series was a 5’7” 150 pounds guy, the shortest player in the series.”

 

Barring technical comparisons between India’s pseudo-national sport (cricket), and the US’ national pastime (baseball), Brueggemann has little clue about anything else: “I have never played cricket and have never heard about an Indian cricketer. I don’t know how useful a baseball coach (like Mike Young, who was involved with MLB sides like Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Bluejays, is working with the Australian cricket team) will be to improve the fielding abilities of the Indian cricket team because I am not aware of the rules of cricket.”

 

Meanwhile, Brueggemann has some commercial advice too. “The only thing which is a problem right now for the workshop are the equipments. Why does most of the baseball equipment have to come from China? India can very well become a manufacturing base. What’s more, you can generate employment too.” Point noted, Mr Brueggemann.




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