Pakistan’s Baseball Team – Coming Soon to Brooklyn

Pakistan's national baseball team (Photo from Pakistan Federation Baseball website)

Pakistan’s national baseball team (Photo from the Pakistan Federation Baseball website)

Pakistan’s national baseball team will participate in the qualifying round of the 4th edition of the World Baseball Classic in New York next month. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) sanctions the quadrennial event, which features 16 national teams from around the world. Why not try them out in your fantasy baseball league at: Who knows, it might give you an edge on the odds.

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, WBSC identifies itself as the “sole competent authority” in baseball and softball recognized by the International Olympic Committee, according to its website.

The Dominican Republic is the reigning champion, having won the crown in 2013. Pakistan is currently ranked number 23 by the WBSC, according to Pakistan Federation Baseball, the body governing the sport in the South Asian nation.

Three other teams – Brazil (ranked 14th), Britain (ranked 33rd) and Israel (ranked 43rd) – will be competing for a spot in Group B in the qualifying round, to be held at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ ballpark from Sept. 22-25. Pakistan will take on Brazil on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 12:00 pm. The winner will join South Korea, Taiwan and the Netherlands, which have already qualified, in Group B, which is scheduled to hold its matches in Seoul, South Korea, when the tournament begins in March 2017.

“Words cannot express how excited and honored we are for this amazing opportunity to show the world that baseball is played everywhere and that we can compete with the best; THIS IS THE BIGGEST MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF PAKISTANI BASEBALL!” the PFB said in an announcement posted at Kickstarter, an online funding platform. The Federation is currently seeking to raise $15,000 to hold the training camp for team Pakistan.

“Your donation and support will not only allow us to help our players train for the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, but will also contribute to a great cause in further developing the game of baseball in Pakistan,” reads the statement, which also details a brief history of baseball in the South Asian nation – far better known for its passion for cricket.

Baseball, according to PFB, was first introduced in Pakistan in 1992 by the federation’s current president Syed Khawar Shah. That was the same year Pakistan won the International Cricket Council’s Cricket World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, defeating England by 22 runs.

Pakistan is one of world’s leading cricket-playing nations, having produced world-class players like Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, and Imran Khan – who switched to philanthropy and then politics after his retirement from the sport and is now the country’s main opposition leader.

Not many Pakistanis have noticed the country’s increasing attraction to baseball, not even people of Pakistani origin in the U.S. It’s a surprise to several Pakistanis asked about it in New York City, some of whom themselves don’t completely understand baseball.

“I hope that they will have a baseball team,” Gul-e-Farkhanda, a Brooklyn-based community activist, said when asked if she knew anything about Pakistan’s national baseball team.

The response of Nomi Naeem, a senior librarian at the Central Library of Brooklyn Public Library, was no different when asked how much he knew about the sport.

“Not much as I grew up in Pakistan where baseball is neither mentioned in the household, nor in school, curricula, culture, or mass media,” he said in response to an email query.

Ibrahim Khan, a Bronx-based businessman, and a diehard Yankees fan, sounded more informed.

“I did know that Pakistan has a baseball team but I did not know that Pakistan has such a good team,” he told Voices of NY. Khan himself played for Pakistan’s national volleyball team in the 1980s. His nephew today is a member of the country’s national volleyball squad.

Nomi Naeem sounded happy and philosophical about the popularity of baseball in Pakistan and its team’s upcoming games in Brooklyn, which he plans to watch.

“The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Accident of birth is often destiny be it sports, politics, mates or books,” he noted. But baseball’s increasing popularity in Pakistan affirms to Naeem that “discovering good things of other cultures is an evidence of our common humanity. And common destiny. Truth not tribe. Earth not ethnicity. Books not bombs.”

Kay Hussain, a longtime New Yorker of Pakistani origin who runs a furniture business on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead, Long Island, accepted his ignorance of the sport but did not hide his excitement. “I am really happy that the Pakistan team is coming,” he told Voices of NY, adding: “Pakistan’s name is going to be on the top. I am going to be very proud of my country.”

Farkhanda shared Hussain’s sentiment, expressing the hope that Pakistani baseball players will work hard for a win and inspire others. “Since Brooklyn is home to a large Pakistani population, it (the Pakistani team) will inspire many Pakistani youngsters to play the game,” she added. She plans to donate to the Pakistani team’s fundraising drive.

Ibrahim Khan, who will watch the Sept. 22 game, hoped the team’s participation in the competition would help improve Pakistan’s image, often in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Khan, who has been living in the U.S. for the past 28 years, especially noted how the image of his country of origin impacts his daily life. “When people come to know about our (Pakistani Americans) origin, they start looking at us differently,” he said.

“One bastard will come and destroy our image. They don’t represent our culture or religion,” Khan said emotionally. “That’s why this is the best news for us to tell fellow Americans that this is our real face – a peace-loving people who love sports.”

Tickets for the Sept. 22 game are on sale here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *