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Baseball Becoming Popular in China

China Today,January 12, 2018 Adjust font size:

Growing Interest

In regards to the first official MLB game in China in 2008, San Diego Padres manager Bud Black said, “This is the start of more baseball in China. The seeds are planted, and we can continue to grow the game. Hopefully the Chinese people will embrace the game and have a passion for it over time like we do in America.” In 2009, the MLB established its MLB Baseball Park initiative, the first baseball-themed entertainment tour in China. According to MLB sources, 400,000 Chinese citizens attended these programs in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Wuxi. The MLB is continuing to push hard to grow the sport in China, as the country presents a big market for not only future players, but also fans.

As with many other sports and industries in China, baseball is continuing to grow. More and more Chinese youths are getting involved with the sport, taking baseball class on the weekends or after school. Many programs for children have been established and often hold classes at the many baseball fields at the Beijing Olympic Park on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This interest in developing the sport in China has also been felt worldwide. Gerald Headd II, a former baseball coach in Beijing, said, “Baseball is an untapped sport that has limitless potential in China. As long as the funding is there to promote the game, I don’t see why China won’t be giving other countries a run for their money in the future.”

A local baseball team in Beijing composed of Chinese, Koreans, and Americans. Gerald Headd ll

In November 2003, U.S. baseball officials signed an agreement with China to exchange coaches, provide equipment and develop baseball in schools. The United States State Department has also funded a program to send Chinese baseball players and coaches to the United States for training.

Founded in 2002 and continuing to grow, the China Baseball League (CBL) is China’s professional league for the sport, with seven teams around the country.  In 2007, the CBL partnered with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, agreeing to allow Japanese clubs to send coaches and players to China and Chinese players to train at Japanese facilities. Japan is one of the biggest fans of baseball, with the Japanese national team currently ranked No.1 in the world by the International Baseball Federation. Through these different partnerships and collaborations, China has created opportunities for its citizens to experience another culture.

With growing Chinese interest in baseball and continual efforts from organizations in the West to build the sport, China might just be the future of baseball. Through heavy investments in China, the MLB hopes to one day cultivate a Yao Ming of baseball, which would bring huge exposure to the sport. For the time being, football and basketball remain the most popular Western sports, but baseball is quickly on the rise.  

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