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.
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The 2018 Baseball 4 Africa National Showcase Tournament was featured. on KBC news. A short clip was aired on the 9pm news - watching the news is as popular a pastime in Kenya as baseball is in America - but this online edition is much more detailed than what the news bit.
We hope you will join us on Baseball Safari 2019 to be on hand for next year's tournament.
On 18 July 2018, a contingent of Bekoji Baseball Club's founding members hit the air waves of Addis Ababa, via EBC Radio / 104.7 FM, on the "High Time" youth information show with Assegid Mulugeta.
We had a blast talking baseball with Assegid for and hour, and hopefully put the baseball bug in a few more Ethiopian ears. We believe the new Prime Minister, His Excellency, Dr. Abiy, may have mentioned something about baseball in a speech a few days later, so maybe...
We can't stop listening to it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
We'll toss a few more pics from the day up on Instagram shortly. If you don't already follow us there, please do: Instagram.com/world_baseball_project
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.
I sat with my brother, Dan, arms draped over one another’s shoulders, bearing witness to one of the most memorable 30 seconds in Philadelphia sports history. As the only baseball/Phillies diehards in the living room of my then-girlfriend’s apartment, we alone grasped the intensity of this moment. The chill that overcame us was brought on by something far more powerful than the October air – it was the work of a man on a small bump of dirt, operating live before a packed theatre.
The response to World Baseball Project’s campaign to “Get Ro to Kenya” thus far has been astounding. Big shout-out to my pops with a $200 drop in the bucket, as well as to Rich Karsay for his second $100 contribution since funding started last August. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we are around 80% for securing a totally awesome experience for Rohobot.
So far, contributions will cover (at current rates)*:
I can’t tell you how excited he’s going to be when I send him his flight confirmation. He is really amazed that you guys who don’t know him are willing to send money so he can have this experience. Really, truly, he is grateful for your gifts.
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.