July 3, 2011
EVER MORE ALIKE:
Strong Arm Offers New Life to Young Indians (Reuters, 6/28/11)
Young men all over India are flexing their muscles in the hope that a strong arm will carry them into a money-spinning career in professional baseball in the United States.Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2011 6:01 AM
Despite the lack of a baseball tradition in India, the dream is not an impossible one, as Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel proved in a tale that is being immortalized in a Walt Disney film.
Singh beat 35,000 rivals three years ago in a talent-hunt in India dubbed "The Million-Dollar Arm" (TMDA) and is tipped to break into Major League Baseball (MLB) after a spell with the minor-league Pittsburg Pirates.
Patel, second in the throwing contest, also earned a contract with the Pirates and, after a lucrative stint in the U.S. which included a meeting with President Barack Obama, is back home looking for a coaching job.
Now, India is looking for someone to follow in their footsteps, with the second TMDA contest beginning in Bangalore last week and due to trawl 60 cities, towns and villages in search of potential baseball talent.
"India's rural belt has unbelievable potential," said Vivek Daglur, vice president of Turn On, TMDA's official partner in India.
"So many are pursuing sports just to get a job in the army or the railways. Their dedication is unbelievable. Some I met could afford only one meal a day but still ran 20 kms just to be a marathon runner.
"TMDA is the perfect platform for anyone with that simple thing. You just need to have a strong arm, nothing else. There are tremendous possibilities that we would take you and sculpt a champion out of you."