Mariano Rivera hopes to revolutionize baseball with first professional league to serve India, Pakistan and Middle East – Boston Herald

Mariano Rivera hopes his latest pitch will change the lives of 2 billion people.

The former Yankee believes a new professional baseball league serving India, Pakistan and the Middle East will revolutionize the game and create a new generation of players and fans.

Rivera is co-president of the new United International Baseball League (UIBL), which he says could give young players the same path he developed as an amateur pitcher in Panama to the majors. League became baseball’s all-time saves leader. .

“Coming from Panama, there’s not much, but just being able to play the game that I love, that’s what inspired me to do the same for people in Pakistan, India, the Middle East, who have There’s not much to the pass, Rivera told the Daily News.

“We’ve got to create an opportunity for him to be the next superstar. To do that, it’s exciting, because you don’t know what you’re going to run into. … How many Mariano Riveras are you going to get out there?

The UIBL was founded by investor Kunal S. Sra, a New York University graduate and Ernst & Young alum who first introduced professional baseball to America’s pastime to the 2 billion people of the Indian subcontinent. Saw the opportunity. League there.

Rivera and Siri believe that baseball has a chance to flourish in countries where cricket is among the most popular sports.

“It’s not the same game, but it’s the same,” Rivera said. “They have to hit the ball. They have to catch the ball. They have to run and all that. Already in doing that, cricket has helped us do something different.

“You get to teach the game of baseball in different countries,” Rivera said. “Countries That Have the Potential to Bring Major League Players to Major League Baseball.”

The UIBL on Monday announced that it will hold a showcase in Dubai next February that will feature teams from India, Pakistan, the US and Dubai. The league plans to expand to a full season with eight teams in 2024.

“India’s population is about 1.3 billion. You have 900 million people who follow the game of cricket,” Sri told The News. “The average age of people watching in India is 34. The average age of baseball fans in America is 57. We see an amazing opportunity to grow the game and be able to develop a lot of young people.”

Rivera pitched each of his 19 MLB seasons with the Yankees, recording 652 saves and winning five World Series. The team retired his number 42 in 2013, and in 2019 he became the only player to be unanimously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He is eager to inspire young players through the UIBL in the same way the players in Panama inspired him.

“There were players like Roberto Kelly, who was part of the New York Yankees, and many other Panamanians who had played before, who were in the same situation as me,” Rivera said. “Maybe a little worse. But at the same time, you have that opportunity, you get the opportunity, and you just take advantage.

Fellow Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin also partnered with the UIBL to help bring the project to prominence. Rivera believes he has the right roster of executives to make the league a success.

“It’s going to be something special,” Rivera said.

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