by Sine Thieme, a writer and mother of four who is new to South Africa and busy chronicling her experiences on her blog, Joburg Expat.
Having moved here from America in March of 2010, the one thing I didn’t expect to find in South Africa was baseball. Our boys, ages 12 and 14, had been avid baseball players in the U.S. but we were resigned to the fact that it would have to be cricket (cricket!) from now on (let me just say that we are still struggling to understand why it is necessary to have matches last 5 days).
However, I was all the more surprised to find that there is a growing baseball movement in South Africa, and not just as a pastime but also a model of social change. One such example is the Alexandra Baseball Association.
Late last year, I met Lucky, the founder of Alexandra Baseball. He told me all about his league of about 180 kids, ages 7-18. They have passion and work hard. Going to practice every day after school keeps them out of trouble and stirs dreams in some to perhaps one day make it to the American Major Leagues. Lucky – who himself grew to love baseball as a kid when his mother worked in the household of Japanese expats – has the vision of growing and perhaps exporting the league he built into new neighborhoods, such as Soweto. But the challenges are daunting. Their home field has no fence or backstop, no bases and no pitcher’s mound, which forces the team to travel across the Gauteng Baseball Federation all season. Coming up with transport is a problem, as is the lack of mitts and bats. Despite all this, they have had success against larger and better-funded clubs. I got to visit the field they practice on in the heart of Alexandra, and I was able to watch and greet some of his players.
Impressed by what I heard and saw, I vowed to help in whichever way I could. I donated what little equipment our boys had outgrown over the years, as well as an unused laptop computer to help the league with their communications. But what is really needed is much more equipment. With baseball still relatively unknown here in South Africa, it’s hard to find even new gear, let alone used. Luckily, Pitch in for Baseball, a non-profit organization in the USA, has agreed to donate a 250-kg pallet of helmets, gloves, bats, balls, and uniforms. This is wonderful news, except that there is a shipping cost of about R8000 which they cannot cover. We are now reaching out in any way we can to raise that money.
If you work in a company that might consider a sponsorship (for instance in return for a placement of their logo on the uniforms), or if you can make a small personal donation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org We accept anything – Dollars, Euros, or Rands!
Anyone interested in finding out if there’s a baseball club near you click here