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The Baseball United All-Stars deliver a historic show at Dubai International Stadium

Tue 28 Nov 2023    
| 4 min read

East All-Stars win both games behind Pablo Sandoval’s 7 RBI and first-ever Money Ball Home Run; Baseball United League reveals several of its new innovations to enhance the fan experience

Dubai: Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, officially brought baseball to the region for the first time with an entertaining two-game series between its two All-Star teams. In a weekend full of firsts, the Baseball United East All-Stars swept the series, winning Friday night’s opening game 3-2, and Saturday night’s game 9-5.

The teams, whose batters combined for four home runs and six stolen bases during two exciting affairs, played in front of diverse, family-oriented crowds each night on a completely custom-made playing field built by Baseball United’s experts. Over 10,000 people attended the games and Baseball United’s Fan Fest over the two days.

Baseball United Chairman, CEO, and Majority Owner, Kash Shaikh, kicked off the festivities on Opening Night with a passionate welcome to all the fans in the stadium and all those watching in more than 120 countries around the world through the league’s broadcast partnerships. Shaikh then welcomed several of the Major League Baseball legends who serve as Co-Owners for Baseball United, including Barry Larkin, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Felix Hernandez, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Bartolo Colon, and Robinson Chirinos. Cano (41) and Colon (50) also played in the two-game series. Dr. Tayeb Kamali, representing the Emirates Cricket Board, as the Guest of Honor, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Local product, Chris Beyers, selected in the Baseball United Draft earlier this year, received the pitch from Dr. Kamali.

“We turned a big dream into a bigger reality,” said Shaikh. “I spent hundreds of nights at that stadium over the past two years, and hundreds more all across this city, trying to help paint the picture of what we could create together. But nothing tells the story better than being able to see it for yourself. To have all our local partners, sponsors, and fans all together to finally witness a Baseball United experience – it was incredible. I had the opportunity to speak with so many fans from so many countries as I walked around the stadium over the weekend, and all of them had such a great time. That’s what is most important to us. We want families to come for the baseball and stay for the experience.”

The Opening Ceremonies concluded with the national anthems of the UAE, performed by Ahmed Al Hosani, and the USA, performed by Julia Cole, followed by a surprise firework show.

Baseball United transformed the stadium’s traditional cricket grand lounge into upscale Diamond and Gold Clubs, complete with five-course buffets, carving stations, premium bars, and full renovation to the lounge décor. Other innovations included on-field, VVIP Cabanas, which placed fans on the field to watch a baseball game for the first time in history, as well two giant LED walls brought in to showcase baseball graphics, statistics, and imagery.

“Building something from nothing is the most difficult and most beautiful thing you can do,” said Shaikh. “And we felt every millimeter of that spectrum during this journey. We were not only bringing a new game to the region for the first time, but we were adding new elements to that game. A lot of people questioned if it was possible. So, to see fans loving our Cabanas, adults enjoying our Diamond Club, and, best of all, kids having such close access to our players for autographs and pictures, all of it was amazing. And then to cap it all off with a Money Ball Home Run was surreal. I had visualized that moment for a long time, and to see Pablo Sandoval transport the Baseball United Money Ball into sports culture with one great swing – just incredible.”

“Building a fan base for a new sport and a new league takes time. But this is how you start. I am so proud of our team and so grateful to our partners, players, and coaches who all worked so hard to make all this possible. Thank you to the city of Dubai and all our government partners for giving us an opportunity to show what we can do. There is a bright future for baseball in this region.”

The league is planning for a full season with multiple franchises beginning in November of 2024.

Game 1 Recap: East All-Stars 3, West All-Stars 2

Bartolo Colon and Jair Jurrjens pitch well; Pakistani prospect, Wahid, kick starts the win for the East

Fifty-year old Bartolo Colon, from the Dominican Republic, started the game for the East All-Stars, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out three batters in three innings of work. Colon threw 52 pitches. Colon recorded the first strikeout in Baseball United history by punching out fellow Dominican, Alexandro De Aza, in the first inning.

Jair Jurrjens, from Curaçao started the game for the West, striking out four while pitching four scoreless innings and throwing 68 pitches.

The East’s Courtney Hawkins, from the United States, registered the first hit in Baseball United history, with a single up the middle in the bottom of the first. The first runs were brought home by the West in the top of the second when Puerto Rican first baseman, Steven Moya, doubled to right-center, and was eventually brought home by Wilin Rosario’s sacrifice fly. After American, Justin Williams, walked and stole second, Dennis Phipps, from the Dominican Republic, drove him in with two-out RBI double. The West led 2-0, after two innings.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the West brought in India’s top pitching prospect, Akshay More, to start the inning. More faced Pakistan prospect, Wahid, to start the inning. Wahid walked on five pitches, and then advanced around all the bases after a two-base throwing error and a wild pitch by More, scoring the first run for the East. Later in the inning, after Jacob Robson, from Canada, walked and stole second, and Venezuela’s Pablo Sandoval drove him in with a single to left to tie the game, 2-2.

The East wrapped up the scoring in the bottom of the sixth when Andrelton Simmons, from Curaçao, drove home the United States’ Dylan Thomas with an RBI single to right field. Five East pitchers combined to shut out the West the rest of the way, with American pitchers, Reggie McClain, picking up the first win in Baseball United history, and Brian Schlitter picking up the save.

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