The world is full of surprises. If you had told me a few months ago that two young men from India
would soon sign professional baseball contracts in America, I would have said, "You're nuts! Please ask your doctor for some medication!" If you had told me that the two men would have never played in a real baseball game at any level before turning pro, I would have said, "Are you already taking some drugs?" If you had told me that the two men would have never even caught a ball with gloves before this year, I would have said, "On which street corner did you buy the drugs?"
As incredible as it may seem, we're soon going to have a Singh and a Patel playing professional baseball in America. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, to be precise. The two men, both former javelin throwers, have signed free-agent contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That means, of course, that India is going to have to stop attacking pirates and start cheering for them.
Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being
the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the “Million
Dollar Arm” that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find
athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster. [Link]
Among 30,000 contestants, Singh and Patel were the only ones who didn't try to bowl the ball. Patel threw the ball at speeds exceeding 90 mph, faster than any Indian man threw objects at the TV during the last cricket World Cup.
contest was sponsored by a California sports management company that
believed it could locate major league-worthy arms in a country of more
than 1 billion. After working extensively with Southern California
pitching coach Tom House since May, the pitchers staged a tryout in
Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 6 that was attended by 30 major league scouts.
Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization,”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. “By adding these
two young men, the Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to
our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market. We
are intrigued by Patel’s arm strength and Singh’s frame and potential.” [Link]
India truly is an untapped market when it comes to many sports. Surely there are many more Rinku Singhs and Dinesh Patels in the country. "Million Dollar Arm" should be an annual show, along with "Million Dollar Foot" and "Million Dollar Stomach."
being more than raw, the pitchers were signed by well-known agent Jeff
Borris, who was attracted by their potential after watching them work
out at Southern Cal.
Borris estimates they will need three to four years of minor league experience before becoming major league ready.
and Singh are learning English, most of which they have picked up from
watching ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and by taking online classes. [Link]
They learned English by watching Baseball Tonight? That explains their recent interview:
Reporter: "How do you feel about signing a contract with the Pirates?"
Patel: "It's a grand-slam home run!"
Singh: "We hit it out of the park!"
Reporter: "One baseball scout said in August that you had no chance of playing pro ball. How did you react to that?"
Patel: "We struck him out!"
Singh: "We sent him back to the clubhouse!"
Reporter: "Will you be sharing some of your signing bonus with your family in India?"
Patel: "We need to take it one game at a time."
Singh: "It's a long season. Anything can happen."