Dubai: How an American sport brought people from diverse communities together

Baseball United's inaugural All-Star showpiece allowed families to bond and experience America's favourite sport together

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Janico, Mary and Gegee at Baseball United’s inaugural All-Star Showcase in Dubai. — Photos by Leslie Wilson Jr.
Janico, Mary and Gegee at Baseball United’s inaugural All-Star Showcase in Dubai. — Photos by Leslie Wilson Jr.

Published: Wed 29 Nov 2023, 12:29 AM

Last updated: Wed 29 Nov 2023, 6:27 PM

From school teachers to fitness coaches, Baseball United’s inaugural All-Star Showcase in Dubai succeeded in connecting with a diverse audience of first-timers and die-hard fans.

Attracting people of multiple demographics isn’t always easy, but Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league in the Middle East and South Asia, demonstrated that it can be done if the right formula is in place.

South African Debra, a teacher at GEMS American Academy, attended the event with her daughter Cathryn and was absolutely blown away.

“We were given some tickets and we thought since we’ve never been to a baseball game before it would be nice to come over and see what it was all about as we like to support anything new that comes to Dubai,” Debra said.

Debra and her daughter Cathryn
Debra and her daughter Cathryn

“It was a really nice family event. We were seated with all the families and children, it was so much fun.

“Since we did not know much about baseball we had to stop ourselves from saying bowling instead of pitching. We’re from South Africa where cricket is big back home” she added.

“The people were so friendly and eager to help us understand the rules of baseball. Once you understand the sport better it helps you enjoy it even more.

“Like the Rugby 7s or the cricket, baseball can grow in Dubai if people support it."

Carthryn described Baseball United’s All-Star game as a social event.

“There were people from so many countries, all enjoying themselves. It was a lovely vibe and I hope it continues to be a success like the other sports events that happen here in Dubai and the UAE.”

Baseball is not new to Californian Jennifer, who was at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium with her soccer and rugby-loving friend, Emma Ash,

“I grew up having season tickets to watch the game since I was three years old when my parents were in San Franciso,” said Jennifer who works in the hospitality sector.

“It’s very exciting being here watching giants like Pablo Sandoval. It’s a big thrill. I’ve been here in Dubai for 11 years and from what I know sports like baseball have a good chance of establishing themselves in this sports-loving city.

Sport enthusiasts Jennifer and Emma Ash
Sport enthusiasts Jennifer and Emma Ash

“I think the organisers are doing it right by bringing back a lot of MVPs who still have something to offer and including emerging players from Triple-A leagues in India, Pakistan and other Asian and Middle Eastern countries,” she added.

Emma Ash was there to see some big hits and if she got lucky, there was a home run to admire.

“It’s my first professional baseball game ever. I have played some softball but my background is actually soccer and rugby," she said.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get to know the sport better. I’m learning and I love the crowd,” added Ash, a fitness trainer.

Filipinos love their sport so it was not a surprise to see many fans from the land of Manny Pacquiao cheering at a game that they were witnessing for the first time.

“To be honest, in the beginning, I was a bit overwhelmed,” said Gegee. “It’s our first time to something like this so it takes a while to soak up the atmosphere.

“We don’t understand the game but we’re trying to learn, Our friend, Janico knows how baseball is played and has been coaching us, me and Mary.

“We are happy we came, it’s such a lovely experience.”

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