TribLIVE

| Home

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates look to television show to find pitching

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Staff and Wire Reports
Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008
 

It's come to this for the Pirates: They're turning to reality TV to find players.

The franchise, which tied a professional sports record last season by notching its 16th consecutive losing season, signed two pitchers from India yesterday who have no baseball experience.

None.

Until a year ago, right-hander Dinesh Kumar Patel, 19, and lefty Rinku Singh, 20, never even picked up a baseball.

When they arrived in the United States six months ago, they spoke no English -- they learned the language by watching "Baseball Tonight" on ESPN and taking online classes.

"I don't know anything about the Pirates except that Barry Bonds played for them," Patel said last night by phone from the duo's personal training camp at the University of Southern California. "I never expected all this to happen. I'm very excited."

Patel and Singh have been training with USC pitching coach Tom House, a former major leaguer. They started at square one, having even to be taught how to use their mitts to catch a ball.

Patel and Singh competed on "Million Dollar Arm," a reality show in India that rewarded anyone who could throw strikes at 85 mph or faster.

Neither pitcher threw hard enough to earn the $1 million prize, but Singh made $100,000 from the contest and Patel made $2,500, plus his trip to the United States.

The contest was sponsored by a California sports management company that believed it could locate major league-worthy arms in a country of more than 1 billion. After working extensively with Southern California pitching coach Tom House since May, the pitchers staged a tryout in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 6 that was attended by 30 major league scouts.

Patel and Singh are believed to be the first Indian-born athletes to sign pro contracts outside of their country.

The Pirates gave both pitchers signing bonuses comparable to what a low-round draft pick would receive. The team did not reveal the specific amounts.

"There are a billion-plus people in India," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "It's like China, which is a hot market for teams because it has a billion people.

"This was an opportunity for us to sign two players whom we like, and also to put our foot in the door in what potentially is a tremendous market of future players."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Escaped inmate called armed, dangerous and homicide suspect by police
  2. Pirates DFA Vance Worley
  3. Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
  4. Beechview man sentenced to jail for fatal drunk driving crash
  5. State Dems broke ties with political consultant days before FBI raids
  6. Blue Jays land Price in Toronto’s 2nd big trade of week
  7. Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
  8. Arraignment scheduled for Penn Hills woman accused of transporting $1M worth of heroin along turnpike
  9. Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
  10. Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
  11. Pittsburgh Celtics seek success, keep it ‘social’ off Gaelic football pitch