Joseph A. Whelan
Founder & Director
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Baseball Fan of: Philadelphia Phillies / Boston Red Sox / Baltimore Orioles
Favorite Baseball Player of All Time: Cal Ripken Jr.
Jersey #: 11
Fun Fact: Joe has traveled to nearly all of the stadiums in MLB and enjoys going to batting practice to catch home-run balls.
After teaching a lesson on sports, from a chapter in an Ethiopian English book, at his Peace Corps-assigned school in Bekoji, Ethiopia, Joe realized how curious his students were about the game. He began teaching small groups of students about baseball - how to understand and play the game, from a perspective of no previous exposure - using the minimal amount of equipment he packed in his 2 years' worth of luggage.
The game stuck, and a small group of boys and girls in rural Ethiopia are eager to be recognized as pioneers for the sport in their country. Upon invitation, Joe traveled to Kenya, on his own dime, to see about connecting Baseball 4 Africa, based in Nairobi, with the seeds planted in Bekoji.
The World Baseball Project is the product of Joe's passion for the game and how it helped create common ground, in his personal experiences, without the benefit of shared language or culture. He believes baseball is an inherently peaceful game, offering an ideal platform for fostering understanding across borders and ultimately making our world a better place.
Chief Strategic Partner
Kabete, Nairobi, Kenya
Baseball Fan of: Chicago Cubs / San Francisco Giants / Seattle Mariners
Favorite Baseball Player of All Time: Barry Bonds
Jersey #: 25
Fun Fact: At George's first and only MLB baseball game, he watched Barry Bonds hit his all-time-record-tying home run.
As President of the Baseball 4 Africa organization, since 2014, George is an essential member of the World Baseball Project team. He is the primary point of contact and counsel for any and all baseball activities in the East Africa region. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya, directly overseeing all Kenyan chapters, and maintains development support relations with partners and prospective chapter centers in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.
George is a safari guide by trade, an avid runner, and strong supporter of Kenyan athletics. He also chairs the Kabete Cares foundation, which he founded. The organization offers support and programs for large swaths of under-served youth in Nairobi, and incorporates baseball as an activity option for both boys and girls.
From the very first moment George encountered baseball, he was in love. Like Joe, George sees the game as a source of and vehicle for peace, and believes it can be a great tool for increasing understanding among citizens of the globe.
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Baseball Fan of: Atlanta Braves / New York Yankees
Favorite Baseball Player of All Time: Hank Aaron
Jersey #: 18
Fun Fact: Jim is thought to be the first person to ever teach baseball in Kenya in a formal capacity.
Jim Tamarack, Founder of Baseball 4 Africa, retired Safari Guide and Conservationist, provides invaluable advice and insight on all aspects of World Baseball Project, from baseball activities to global citizenship initiatives to fundraising and everything in between. Indeed, without Jim, World Baseball Project may have never existed in the first place. It was upon Jim's open invitation to Kenya that Joe realized his vision for the endeavor.
Jim first started teaching baseball in Kenya in 2004, during an overland trans-African adventure with his wife. He tossed a bag of bats and balls in the back of his LandRover and taught the game to any interested party he encountered along the way. Jim's teachings were vastly popular in Kenya - so much so that he founded Baseball 4 Africa, with Kenya as the foundation. He has since returned annually to conduct baseball clinics and trainings, as well as to host the annual Baseball 4 Africa National Championship invitational tournament, for which he provides balls and trophies (and whatever extras for the players that he can cram into his luggage).
A lifelong devotee of baseball, growing up with the Yankees, he now roots for the Braves since moving to Georgia. Jim's baseball heroes are those who have approached the game with unquestioned integrity and disciplined tenacity - the likes of Cal Ripken Jr., Derek Jeter, and, chief of all, Hank Aaron. As Jim notes, "It's harder to achieve perfect attendance in school than it is to be a straight-A student."
Jim currently plays ball for two mean's clubs, including the Savannah Steamers, a competitive 18+ association based in Savannah, Georgia, USA, for which he has provided 26 years of hardball service. Jim is a career catcher who can toss reliable batting practice pitches. He will always be found with #18 on his back.
Ethiopia Programs Manager
Hometown: Bekoji, Ethiopia
Baseball Fan of: Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite Baseball Player of All Time: David Wright
Jersey #: 23
Fun Fact: Rohobot will likely be the first Ethiopian in history to travel abroad for the purposes of learning more about baseball.
Rohobot was one of the original founding members of the Bekoji Baseball Club when it met for the first time, in 2013. From the onset, Ro displayed strong leadership qualities, helping to keep the team organized and on task. Eventually, he started to take up a role of assisting in training new team members, as his understanding of the game advanced.
Ro continued to keep baseball going in Bekoji, even after the discontinuation of Peace Corps programs in his town, and despite little support from the community at large. When Joe returned in 2015, Ro and the boys had invented their own "sandlot" style version of baseball, with their own rule modifications, that allowed them to play even when turnout was low.
Rohobot was instrumental in securing permission for the Bekoji Baseball Club to have dedicated playing time on the field of the town stadium, during a series of meetings in late 2015/early 2016. He is due to graduate from the Asella Technical College, in July 2018. Until now, all of his work for World Baseball Project has been volunteer-based, but he hopes he will be able to turn it into a career.