Major League Baseball sent out this press release announcing Curtis Granderson’s upcoming trip to New Zealand as one of MLB’s international ambassadors.
Three stars of Major League Baseball will be spending part of their off-season growing the game of baseball internationally as part of the MLB International Ambassador program. Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers will travel to China and Japan for eight days, C.J. Wilson of the American League Champion Texas Rangers will host clinics in South Africa and the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson will be in New Zealand on his fourth MLB International Ambassador trip.
Curtis Granderson will tour New Zealand from January 20 – 28. He will make appearances and host clinics for young ballplayers of all ages and abilities. In addition, Granderson will attend part of the BCO Under-16 tournament, which determines which nation will represent the Oceania region at the Under-16 International Baseball Federation World Championships. New Zealand’s first game on January 25th will be the opening game of the tournament and will be televised on SKY Sports across the nation.
Granderson first served as an MLB International Ambassador when he traveled to England, the Netherlands and Italy in 2006. In 2007, he made a trip to South Africa and followed in 2008 with a trip to Beijing and Shanghai, China.
“It is always an honor to be able to represent Major League Baseball while working to not only teach others the game of baseball, but to also help this great sport grow on a global scale,” said Granderson. “Baseball New Zealand has a strong foundation in place and has access to some of the greatest athletes in the world. I am looking forward to working with them and assisting in any way possible to make baseball a strong national sport.”
Granderson continued, “It is also exciting to see so many other young MLB stars given the opportunity to share their passion and knowledge of the sport with other nations as I have done in past years. These trips are important for the future of MLB.”
Prince Fielder will become just the second current MLB player to tour China promoting the game of baseball when he journeys to Beijing from December 10 – 14, 2010. Fielder will follow his trip to China with five days in Tokyo, Japan.
Throughout his stay in Beijing, Fielder will participate in grassroots initiatives, make several media appearances and attend various charitable events. On December 13th, Fielder will make an appearance at Wanquan Elementary School, 2010 Diamond Cup Champion of the MLB International Play Ball! Program. Play Ball! introduces the game of baseball into the school’s physical education curriculum.
While in Tokyo, Fielder will make a special appearance at a middle school to visit with baseball players and attend an event at the MLB Café, the first ever Major League Baseball-themed restaurant. He will also participate in a panel discussion for the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan where he will join Japan’s first-ever MLB player Masanori Murakami in a session titled “Two Countries, One Passion: A Look at Baseball in America & Japan.”
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to go to Asia to promote and share the game I love,” said Prince Fielder. “I went to Japan for the first time as a kid and have always wanted to go back. To also be able to see China for the first time and how baseball is viewed there is going to be special.”
C.J. Wilson will travel to Cape Town, South Africa in January. Wilson will host baseball clinics for players at both the grassroots and elite levels with the assistance of Mike Randall, the MLB Coach in Residence in South Africa. Clinics will be held on January 6 for 250 youth players and January 9, for 72 elite players, including eight members of Team South Africa from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The clinics will feature both baseball instruction and an educational component where Wilson will provide off-the-field advice for the young players.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to travel to South Africa and spread some of the enthusiasm I’ve got for baseball to the kids there,” said C.J. Wilson. “Going to the World Series this year has opened my eyes to the reach and possibilities to expand the game into new global markets. Since I’m going to be experiencing Cape Town for a few weeks, I’d be let down not to see the baseball over there and hopefully my positive attitude as a player can be translated across the ocean.”
Wilson continued, “I’ve been blessed in life and any chance I get to interact with fans or youth players has always left me feeling happy and motivated towards furthering my career and off the field charity influences as well.”
In addition to the upcoming Ambassador tours, this past November, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Rick VandenHurk led a group of Major League Baseball players on a tour of his native Netherlands. Players joining VandenHurk included John Baker (Florida Marlins), Jeremy Guthrie (Baltimore Orioles), Greg Halman (Seattle Mariners) and Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles). Former Major Leaguer Brady Anderson served as an instructor. The group hosted four baseball clinics, which reached more than 1,000 kids, in Eindhoven, Haarlem and Rotterdam in the Netherlands as well as Antwerp, Belgium.
The Major League Baseball International Ambassador Program utilizes the popularity of current and former MLB players to bring the game to fans all over the world. Past MLB International Ambassadors include Cal Ripken Jr., Bo Jackson, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Al Leiter and many others.
Associated Press photo