I’ve even gone as far as China! When I left home to play professional baseball at the age of 17 I had never been more than 10 miles away from home. I was playing for the Schenectady Blue Jays, and since I didn’t know how to spell Schenectady I told my parents I was five miles away from Albany.
Six years ago today, May 23, 2002, I was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch of the Chinese Baseball League’s very first championship game.
A few months later the Chinese National team visited Dodger Stadium and worked out here. I talked to them, through an interpreter. It was funny because as I got louder in my talk, so did he. I also worked with the player sin hopes of making them better.
A few days ago the Chinese National team worked out at Dodger Stadium, and they have come a long way since I was in China. It’s great to see the game being spread across the globe.
I truly believe that within the next 10 years a great player development system will exist in China. They are strong people, and as long as they keep playing games, and keep the youth involved, it is only a matter of time.
I’m looking forward to seeing them play in the 2008 Olympics, as well as the 2009 World Baseball Classic.