TODAY -

E-Pao! Top Stories:: New Yorkers Convene To Bring Baseball

New Yorkers Convene To Bring Baseball
And
A "Field Of Dreams" To The Eastern Himalayan State Of Manipur In India
"First Pitch" *



As part of a cultural exchange effort that is assisting the citizens of Manipur, India, in their desire to create fully-developed American-style baseball leagues, a group of New Yorkers - organized as a newly-minted project called "First Pitch" - announced its plans at an inaugural presentation on June 8 at the Fifth Avenue home of Elizabeth Brockman.

At the inaugural reception, Muriel Peters, Chairman of the Board of Directors, welcomed the guests, which included baseball stars Rusty Staub and Billy Sample. She announced the creation of a commemorative mezzotint by New York artist Craig McPherson and a donation of equipment by the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Ky.

L. Somi Roy, a Manipuri native and the Executive Director of "First Pitch," described the project's aspirations and introduced a 5-minute film made in Fall 2004 in Manipur titled "Baseball Dreams."

Entertainment was provided by the Nashville recording star Gretchen Peters, and by Terry Cashman, the well-known "Baseball Balladeer". Bi-cultural refreshments included hotdogs as well as Manipuri-inspired canapes created for the occasion by Sati Sharma of Brick Lane Curry House.

Filmmaker Mirra Bank and cameraman Vic Losick documented the event for their forthcoming HD documentary on Manipuri baseball.

Manipur is a tiny Eastern Himalayan state about the size of Long Island in northeastern India, bordering on Myanmar (Burma). The Tibeto-Burman population numbers just over a million. During World War II, Manipur's airfields were part of a network used by Allied pilots as they flew over the Himalayan Hump with supplies for the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek.

That American presence may have first brought baseball to the attention of the people of Manipur - the only region in all of India where a passion for the sport exists.

Regrettably, the state's 26 teams have only the most meager equipment - bats, balls, uniforms, mitts - and no proper, regulation playing field. Land is being donated by local baseball players for the construction of a ballpark.

"First Pitch" is founded to help make that ballpark a reality and to provide equipment, coaching, and other services.

"First Pitch" is an experiment in "baseball diplomacy" as well as in international goodwill and amity. Its approach is based on partnerships that build on the culture and strengths of its peoples.

The project's advisory committee includes Ken Burns, Geoffrey Ward, Jeffrey Lyons, Billy Sample, Bill Madden and a dozen other prominent figures in sports and the arts.


* "First Pitch" is an experiment in "baseball diplomacy" as well as in international goodwill and amity. This Press Release was webcasted on 13th June 2005

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