Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Immigrants Aid Pittsburgh--Pirates!

Earlier today, I posted a story about how immigrant entrepreneurs and workers have helped the economy of Pittsburgh. Now here's a story from the sports world about the first professional baseball players recruited from India!

Alan Robinson writes for the Associated Press:

The Pittsburgh Pirates hope Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel really do have million-dollar arms. The two 20-year-old pitchers, neither of whom had picked up a baseball until earlier this year, signed free-agent contracts Monday with the Pirates. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts outside their country.

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.

While neither pitcher threw hard enough to earn the $1 million prize, Singh made $100,000 from the contest and Patel made $2,500, plus his trip to the United States.

The 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.

"The 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.

Both threw the javelin in India, a country best known for producing cricket players, and neither the right-hander Patel nor the left-hander Singh had left his small village before coming to the United States. Singh was born in Bhadoni, Uttar Pradesh, and is the youngest of nine children. Patel is from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and has four brothers and sisters.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Patel hit 90 mph on the radar gun during his tryout, and the 6-2, 195-pound Singh topped out at 84 mph. Each has thrown harder during workout sessions that weren't attended by scouts. Click here for the rest of the story.

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