Beijing Tigers win Play Ball! baseball finals

09:59, June 01, 2010      

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Beijing Wanquan Tigers outplayed cross-town rivals Xidan Yankees 2-0 to win the MLB Play Ball! China finals in Beijing Fengtai Sports Center on Sunday.

Guangzhou Jinghui Sports School Mets finished third with a better semifinal score over Wuxi Xinqu Cardinals.

In the semifinals early Sunday, Yankees beat Cardinals with a lopsided score of 15-1 and Tigers whitewashed Mets 6-0.

MLB launched its grassroots youth baseball program, Play Ball!, in five cities across China in 2007. The program has been incorporated into the physical education curriculum for students aged eight to 12 in 120 elementary schools in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuxi.

Play Ball! China has reached more than 400,000 youngsters since its launch. The participating students have been introduced to the rules of the game and instructed on developing their baseball skills as part of their in-school physical education programs.

"It was a very good start and we plan to attract more Chinese youth to take part in the Play Ball! program," said Xie Long, MLB China director.

MLB is also thinking about cultivating a baseball equivalent of NBA star Yao Ming. That's why MLB has decided to work with the nation's education and sports departments to promote the sport in public schools and communities, hoping to reach millions of Chinese youngsters and find and nurture future talent.

The MLB Baseball Development Center (MLBDC), a baseball academy established in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in September, is the cream of the crop of such cooperation.

The academy hosts 16 select school-aged baseball hopefuls and provides them with regular classes, baseball training and English lessons.

"We are fostering these hopefuls with patience and expect some of them can grow into a Yao Ming of baseball," Xie said. "Three Chinese players are playing in the Major League Baseball system in the United States. They're young and in the developmental stages, so they're not quite yet at the Yao Ming level, but they all played for the 2009 China national baseball team."



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