New Delhi [India], November 29 (ANI): An astounding 113 teams participated in the Major League Baseball (MLB) Cup India 2022 regional tournaments, a dramatic increase from 12 teams that participated last year. The regional tournaments, spread across two months, kicked off on October 13 and concluded on November 25.
After a very successful Major League Baseball (MLB) Cup in 2021, the iconic youth tournament returned to India for a second year running, bigger and better. The tournament looks to reaffirm MLB's commitment towards youth development and is part of the League's larger impetus to increase participation in baseball in India.
The qualifiers of the 2022 MLB Cup were held in 8 venues across India - Indore, Hyderabad, Kerala, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmednagar and Kolhapur. After 135 games and 549 innings, the best teams qualified from each venue, with a total of 16 teams advancing to the finals to be held in Delhi-NCR at the Noida Cricket Stadium from December 2 to December 4,
A unique feature of the MLB Cup is its mixed team format that encourages boys and girls to participate as one team. This edition also saw a few all-girls teams participate. All teams consisted of young athletes from the age of 9 to 11 years.
While talking about the MLB Cup 2022 Ryo Takahashi, Business Development Manager, for MLB India said, "The inaugural edition of the MLB Cup, held in pandemic times, was an encouraging start. But MLB Cup 2022 has shown us the potential and excitement for baseball in India. To see teams from the smallest towns with the most inspiring stories, has further strengthened our commitment to the country. We hope that with persistence and encouragement, the learning and coaching ecosystem for baseball in India improves and the children benefit from it all."
All 16 finalist teams will be provided accommodation and travel support by MLB India, along with equipment, and jerseys during their stay in Noida.
Baseball Development Manager, MLB India, David Palese, has been observing the skills of the teams participating in the MLB Cup 2022 and said, "The participants have shown unparalleled enthusiasm towards baseball, which could be seen in the energy level and excitement at each of our venues. It was great to see such a massive turnout for the 2022 MLB Cup."
Three of the sixteen MLB Cup finalists started playing baseball after the implementation of MLB 'First Pitch' program. The First Pitch program was conducted in 90 schools in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in 2022. The First Pitch program is structured to provide children an opportunity to be introduced at a young age and graduate into a school team that can compete in MLB Cup.
Ryo added "This tournament has given reason for kids and parents to invest in the game and represent their hometown. Baseball is a new sport in the country and a new opportunity to impact the communities they are from."
The 16 final teams that will be taking part in the final leg of the tournament being held in Delhi-NCR at the NOIDA Cricket Stadium from the December 2 to December 4 are as follows-
a. Siddharth Global Academy - Bhilwara Brewers
b. Delhi Baseball Association - Delhi Twins
a. Aspee Nutan Academy - Mumbai Astros
b. Rajhans Vidyalaya - Mumbai Marlins
a. Delhi Public School Bangalore East - Bangalore Rays
b. Trichy Shooter Academy - Trichy Giants
a. Prayash Sports Academy - Kawardha Phillies
b. Indore Baseball Club - Indore Padres
a. Hyderabad Hard Hitters - Hyderabad Yankees
a. SAK Club - Malappuram White Sox
a. Dr. Kadam Gurukul Baseball Academy - Pune Mariners
b. Shirur Sports Club - Pune Red Sox
c. Sanjivani Academy - Ahmednagar Dodgers
a. Mary Matha All-Star - Satara Cardinals
b. SK Pant Walawalkar - Kolhapur Braves
c. Rayat Shikshan Sanstha - Satara Blue Jays
MLB Cup is conducted in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Mexico and the UK which has a presence of MLB in it, India being one of the major international markets in which MLB operates, is rapidly becoming one of the hotbeds for baseball in the region. (ANI)