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Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM's April Geographica and Who Knew? with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
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Worldwide, It's a Hit
As markets mushroom, baseball goes global

"For starting pitchers, we have two Dominicans, one Italian, one Mexican, and one Japanese. In the bullpen we have a Venezuelan, a Mexican. . . ." That was manager Tommy Lasorda, unveiling his Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995—at the time an unusual collection of players from around the world. Now, as a new baseball season begins, such a lineup would barely raise an eyebrow. Of the 827 players who opened the 2003 major league season, 28 percent came from foreign countries and Puerto Rico.

The injection of international players into America's national pastime coincides with a surge in baseball's popularity worldwide. In recent years the game has swept east and is now the hottest new sport in China. At the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea, Chinese cheerleaders spurred their players on as they went up against the Koreans.
 
Last  November U.S. baseball officials signed an agreement with the world's most populous country, exchanging coaches, providing equipment for China's national team, and developing a baseball program for schools. "We want to put bats and balls in kids' hands around the world," says Paul Archey, in the office of the baseball commissioner.
 
Archey traces the Asian interest in U.S. major league baseball to 1995, when the Dodgers signed Hideo Nomo, the Japanese pitcher mentioned by manager Lasorda. With more Asian players now in the fold, marketing opportunities are booming in broadcasting, merchandising, licensing, and sponsorships. Every season fans in Japan, where baseball's roots are deepest in Asia, watch games televised from the U.S., often featuring Japanese stars.
 
While Asians are relative newcomers to U.S. baseball, Latin American players enjoy a long and distinguished history with the game. The Dominican Republic, a seemingly bottomless talent pool, could claim 79 players in the U.S. major leagues on opening day 2003. In a nation where one in four people live below the poverty line, Dominican boys near San Pedro de Macorís—a town famous for spawning players—hone their skills with broken bats, in sandlots that look more like moonscapes.

It's a training ground that major league scouts won't soon ignore. But that hasn't stopped baseball from turning its gaze to the East. In 2004, for the second time in the past five years, the major leagues' opening-day game will be played in Tokyo.  
 
—John L. Eliot


Web Links

Baseball Almanac
www.baseball-almanac.com/
Everything you want to know about baseball is on this site—history, rosters, statistics, and even jokes and songs.


Baseball Reference
www.baseball-reference.com/
This site has a thorough listing of baseball information, from team and league information to players and awards.

Jim Furtado's Baseball Newstand
www.baseballnewsstand.com/
Want to read about your favorite team?  This site links you to practically every media outlet for baseball.


Free World Map
Bibliography

Lorimer, Lawrence. Baseball: A Desk Reference. DK Publishing, 2002.

Reichler, Joseph, ed. The Baseball Encyclopedia. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984.




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