It's hard to believe that more than two years have passed since launching World Baseball Project. In that time, the dream has only continued to grow as The Project as taken shape and the path forward has become more clear.
A little over a year ago, Rohobot and I said goodbye to Jim and Cheryl, through misty eyes, at the conclusion of the 2018 Baseball 4 Africa Tournament in Nairobi. I walked away from the group, to the edge of the fields where we were part of a core group who had just collectively executed one of the most successful single days of baseball in Kenyan sports history.
I looked up at a crescent moon growing brighter as dusk settled down over the Lenana School, removed my cap, lowered my head, and said a short prayer. I asked, very simply, for this beautiful dream of ours to finally come to total fruition.
A lot has happened since the 2017 launch; we've come a long way - we're closer than we've ever been to fully realizing The Dream; we've endured great growing pains and we still have quite a ways to go - a lot of room to grow...
Please continue reading for a look back at some of the progress we have made, together, in that time - the true measure of what we have already achieved is yet to be realized.
As always, thanks for your unending support and helping us get this far. We are very much looking to 2020 - the Year of the Baseball - and to many bright horizons ahead.
Best Wishes, on behalf of all involved and impacted,
World Baseball Project was honored to be on hand for a pair of goodwill games this past Saturday, in Dong Nai province, Vietnam. The “Baseball Friend” matches, hosted by the Japanese Vietnam Baseball Association (JVBA), invited clubs from Cambodia and Vietnam to join the local Japanese club for a day of development-oriented competition, inclusive of Japanese baseball formalities and played in observation of international baseball rules and regulations. The matches were not official, in the sense of impact on international rankings, but were true competitive affairs in the name of friendship through baseball. Gifts were exchanged in an opening ceremony, making well apparent the collective love for baseball and a profound respect for the sport.
On 22 July 2018, ten founding members of the Bekoji Baseball Club took their first-ever road trip, along with Coach Joe, down to a far-distant town, deep in southern Ethiopia. A few weeks prior, Rohobot stumbled across an article about a “baseball team” that had been started at an NGO in that town. We reached out to management at the site, asked if we could come down for some baseball, hired a minibus for the day, and set off with visions of barnstorming.
On July 3, 2018, Rohobot Debele arrived at Jomo Kenyata International Airport, in Nairobi, Kenya. It was his first time on an airplane, as well as his first experience traveling to another country, from his native Ethiopia – a neighbour of Kenya to the north. It also marks, as far as available recorded history can show, the first time an Ethiopian has travelled abroad for the purposes of baseball. In other words, Rohobot made history.
The first time I shook Jim’s hand was at a train station in Southeast Pennsylvania. His mystique was as palpable in person as it was online. His LinkedIn profile displayed a man about the world, framed in a cowboy hat, his mile-wide southern grin nuzzled against a thick white beard. He was an accomplished wildlife conservationist with footprints in many corners of the globe.
Now, as I push my well-loaded luggage cart through this parking garage-cum-arrival terminal at JKIA, we meet for the second time. After three weeks of food, friends, and fun in Ethiopia, I’d made my way from Addis to Nairobi, not entirely certain how the next few months would play out.
“Welcome to Kiniia,” Jim boasts, hand extended. Rosy cheeks pronounce his grin.