Baseball, Softball – budding pastime in Georgia
11 April, 2013
Baseball, Softball –  budding pastime in Georgia
With the first inning done, it all became clear from the score of five to nothing – the Georgian National Team leading the US Marine’s team ‘Warriors’. The friendly game ended with an unexpected result of 15 to 3 in favor the hosting team.
Last Saturday, the 7th of March, the Shatili Stadieum of Temka in Tbilisi was packed full. Some of the enthusiasts were even trying to squeeze themselves into the stands somehow. Well, Shatili is not exactly a
Yankee Stadium of New York but when things like that day’s lovely baseball game happen, you want to see there as many people as possible. Whatever the number of seats, all of it was happily grabbed and enjoyed. Yes, Baseball, accompanied by its sister Softball is coming to Georgia, involving step by step both the players and the fans. Among the spectators were the Ambassador of the United States of America in Georgia Richard Norland and Mrs. Norland, and Vice-speaker of Georgia’s Parliament, President of the Georgian Baseball & Softball Federation Mr. Zurab Abashidze.
This international game between Georgian National Youth Team and USA Marines was dedicated to Georgian Wounded Warriors Battalion. The event was organized by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, Baseball and Softball Federation of Georgia, the NGO Friends of Georgian Baseball & Softball and American Friendship Club. The game was readily support by US Embassy in Georgia, Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia and Sports Complex Shatili.
The original program figured the Softball game as a pleasant introduction into the main Baseball event, but because the stadium was used for warming up, there was no time left for Softball although the girls who were supposed to play were doing some pre-game throwing of the ball. For compensation I am going to see the Georgian softball team in training next Saturday at the Vazusubani Stadiuem of Tbilisi, where I was invited by the players themselves Ketevan Nikoleishvili and Natia Eliashvili. Their coach Gia Kemoklidze has been energetically developing the Softball culture in Georgia for many past years.
When in the 80’s of the last century, the first president of Georgia’s Baseball & Softball Federation Ramaz Goglidze together with the Federation’s general secretary Gela Chikhradze were trying to enthusiastically explain to all of us what baseball and softball might mean to Georgia some day in the future, we were more than skeptical. Today, we even have an NGO in this country called Friends of Georgian Baseball and Softball, founded and directed by an American citizen and vigorous promoter of sports in Georgia Jackie Koney. Incidentally, she was not among us at the game because of the conflict on her schedule – she was out of the country for a good reason. How about the Georgian baseball team, so well trained by its irreplaceable coach Nugzar Kapanadze? By the way, that day I baptized him with an appellation like ‘Tommy Lasorda of Georgia’. I was readily seconded by our baseball guru Ramaz Goglidze. Isn’t it something to know that Georgians can play the American game so well?
Having in the stands of the stadium the young Georgian men, seriously hurt in international military missions, the American Ambassador and his spouse, Georgia’s parliamentarians, and representatives of various important offices of the country had made the baseball game not only a regular sporting occasion but also an elevated political event charged with a wonderful sense of friendship and togetherness. Can the nations do anything better than being friendly and cooperative with each other in piece and mutual understanding via a sporting medium? That game was a symbol of this type of a dream. It was also pleasant to know that the Federation vice-president Giorgi Datunashvili was orchestrating all the goings-on with professional calmness and dexterity.
This coming Saturday, April 13th at Muza (Merab Berdzenishvili Culture Center, on the road up to Turtle Lake), will be shown two classic American baseball movies – ‘The Perfect Game’ and ‘Field of Dreams’. The event is a fundraiser for Friends of Georgian Baseball and Softball and they are asking for a minimum donation of 10 GEL.  Proceeds will help to buy some badly needed baseball bats for the national baseball team and hopefully, maybe just maybe, to send one All-Star Little League team to the European Little League tournament.
Clearly, another good thing is budding in Georgia – baseball and softball. Kids all over the place are getting interested and grownups are growing more and more supportive. The only remaining question is if it someday in the future generates money in this country too, like it does in America. It might if investments into this wonderful pastime are made available without those hateful and unnecessary procrastinations. Sorry, but you cannot develop anything without using funds thereof. As a matter of fact, fundraising is another good thing we will have to learn from our fellow Americans. Trust me, they truly know how to do this.
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