(Reuters) - Major League Baseball plans to open an office in New Delhi that will focus on growing the game in cricket-obsessed India through fan engagement and baseball development.
Well aware of the technical similarity of throwing, hitting and catching that link cricket and baseball, MLB is ready to showcase America’s pastime with a game broadcast on Facebook each week in India through the end of the regular season.
“The country has huge potential for us, and we want to make sure that India is an important part of the ever-growing brand that is MLB,” Jim Small, MLB Senior Vice President of International, said in a statement on Tuesday.
As part of the initiative MLB said Million Dollar Arm, a contest that began as a reality TV show and was the basis of the 2014 movie of the same name, will run this year with thousands of participants competing to earn a tryout with an MLB team.
The MLB First Pitch grassroots programme will also be introduced and give primary school children across New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai an opportunity to learn the sport through workshops led by MLB International coaches.
Indian Premier League team Delhi Capital’s assistant coach Mohammad Kaif was present at the announcement and said he looked forward to introducing a new generation to baseball.
“Cricket and baseball have quite a few things in common. Growing up playing cricket, we always knew there was a similar sport played in the United States, but never imagined it would come to India one day,” said former India cricketer Kaif.
“The Delhi Capitals are delighted to help support the MLB brand and introduce India to a new sport.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris