Baseball in Bangkok!

Baseball in Bangkok 112 We had a doubly great baseball day today in Bangkok, Thailand. For starters, we got up early and watched the first part of a Red Sox blow-out win against Cleveland. On to game #7 tomorrow! And then we drove out to a set of fields in the suburbs of Bangkok for an extraordinary morning of baseball.

Baseball in Bangkok 022 Through the great stateside assistance of Kristie Jochmann, along with help from the Red Sox and the Little League is identifying teams, we contacted a group in Bangkok, Thailand, that plays baseball. The last thing I expected, though, was to find about 125 players at an “off season” practice on a Sunday morning, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The team holds its practices at fields at the site of a Japanese-based company, Minebea, that has a big facility in Thailand. Minebea, which makes electronic components and ball bearings, sponsors the team, which includes several very qualified coaches (Isao Aoyama, Koichi Suzuki, and Sugie Masatoshi) and a large number of talented and enthusiastic young boys and girls, from age 7-18. They compete in the Little League and take their baseball seriously.

The teams include both children from Thailand and Japanese children in Thailand in conjunction with the company Minebea. The coach indicated that about 1/3rd of the kids playing were Japanese, and the other 2/3rds were Thai. The mix was interesting to observe, and we found that the Japanese players were particularly tuned into professional baseball, and knew a fair amount about Major League Baseball.

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Baseball in Bangkok 026 They play on a huge field, and divided up into the four corners, with different ages playing in groups. The oldest kids played on a field with three parallel batting cages, all used concurrently! We didn’t play with this group, but my sense is that they were quite good. I chatted with one of their players over lunch (who spoke perfect English), who said most of them have been playing together for several years.

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Since this was an off-season practice, the coaches focused on conditioning. So the kids ran — a lot. Gibson said he’s never run so much in his life. And they did all sorts of stretching and other physical exercises. It was a hot morning (Bangkok is in the tropics), and the kids all played pretty much non-stop for three hours.

Baseball in Bangkok 067 At the end of the practice, we said a big thank you to the coaches and players for letting us play with them and learn about their program. And we gave them all Red Sox hats — over 100 in all! The kids were incredibly polite and thankful, and they looked like dream kids to coach. And many of them were aware of the Red Sox, especially Daisuke Matsuzaka. So we asked them to root for the Red Sox and Dice-K the next day in Game #7 against Cleveland. Let’s hope Thailand can send the Red Sox a little added kharma!!

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We then joined the team for lunch after the practice. Several parents were there, and they (and it looked like Minebea may have made personnel available to help with lunch) prepared a great meal for a large group. We also got a chance to spend some more time with the players and their families, which was really fun. It was impressive to see so much interest in baseball here in Thailand, as well as a major corporation like Minebea doing so much to help the program!

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For our photos from this fun day, go to:

http://dintersmith.phanfare.com/album/454924/633526

One Response to “Baseball in Bangkok!”

  1. Robbert Says:

    Hi Ted,

    Interesting b-log you have written. I have a question: I am a dutch guy looking to play baseball in Bangkok. Do you have any references or contact which I can use to get involved into a team?

    Thanks in advance,

    Gr
    Robbert

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