Despite the fact that the “World Series” actually only includes teams from the United States and Canada, baseball itself is an incredibly international sport.
In honor of the opening day of baseball I did a little research on baseball’s global connections and I found out some really cool information.
Since baseball is a sport that loves statistics, here are a few:
- Major league ball players have come from 54 different countries since the 19th century.
- Jeff Bronkey, a pitcher with the Texas Rangers for three seasons in the 1990s, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- There are more major leaguers from the Dominican Republic than any other country (other than the U.S.).
- Venezuela, Canada, and Cuba round out the top 5.
The first baseball game played outside the United States was in England but one of the most unique games was probably the one played in front of the Sphinx in Egypt.
Statistics from the Baseball Almanac.
But perhaps nothing accurately captures the spirit of baseball than this quote from Tommy Lasorda:
“For starting pitchers we have two Dominicans, one Italian, one Mexican, and one Japanese. In the bullpen we have a Venezuelan, a Mexican, a guy from the United States, and a guy from St. Louis.”
But no matter where you go in the world, you won’t find a better mascot than the Philly Fanatic.
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Here’s a short list of places NOT to go if you’re averse to tomfoolery:
However, having lived in West Africa, I can tell you that former colonies of any of these countries are extremely likely to maintain the practice of April Fool’s jokes. In Burkina Faso, it was known as the “poisson d’avril,” which means “April fish.” This turn of phrase stems from the young and naïve fish spring fish who were easily caught on April 1.