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Born in Sudbury, Ont. Taking up a bat for the first time is a rite of passage in that region, the same way a first goal or touchdown is in Italy or the U. He was raised in the Philippines before relocating to the U.

And on that November night last year, one aspect of that well-travelled existence came full circle: Cricket and baseball are intrinsically linked, with both said to have origins in Asiqn English folk games, and a case can be made that the former is the more popular sport worldwide. Baseball is still a little bit of a curiosity. Same passion, different pastime Featuring jlb bowlers and batsmen from around the globe, the Cricket All-Star Series gave roughly 20, LA-area cricket fans an excuse Asiwn familiarize themselves with Dodger Stadium For a long time baseball was a curiosity to my father. As ml Guyanese man of Indian descent, his life used to revolve around cricket.

An opening batsman—the equivalent of a leadoff hitter—he played semi-professionally in the Surrey Championship Asian mlb in south London. After moving to Canada in the mids, he continued to play on clubs across the Greater Toronto Area. For some reason, though, I never took to the sport. I remember trying on his pads and helmet as a child, and even attending his matches, but baseball was what really gripped me. Maybe it was due to geography, or maybe the fact the Blue Jays were so good in the early s. At age eight I began to idolize Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar. Partly because of his style and flair on the field, but also because he kind of looked like me—a brown-skinned male with curly, dark hair.

As a youth that mattered; I wanted to see parts of myself represented in the players I admired. Though his Latin background and my South Asian heritage were obviously separate and distinct, I gravitated to Alomar because of that resemblance. A bit of myself As a baseball-loving kid growing up in the Toronto area, the author was drawn to Alomar because of their shared physical characteristics—brown skin and curly, dark hair Baseball has never had a player of Indian or Pakistani descent reach the majors, despite the fact that widespread immigration from those countries to Canada began in the s, when then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau adopted policies that embraced multiculturalism and opened doors to newcomers.

Around that same time South Asians began to emigrate to the U. People of South Asian descent have been building their standing in hockey for years—Manny Malhotra established himself as a staple in the NHL, while last season Jujhar Khaira made his debut for the Edmonton Oilers.

Ohtani is also believing this all while domestic in a healthy country with a large different culture and slippery discretion against Asians. If you go to ESPN. But, he enticing, the farther he got from hard baseball, the older players that looked up him.

Even the Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi Edition broadcasters gained mainstream North American appeal when their entertaining goal calls went viral mob the recent playoffs. He spent last season with the D-League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors. Yet, for all the seemingly common threads that run from cricket through to baseball—throwing, catching, batting—South Asians remain conspicuously absent in the majors. Much of his life has been spent as the lone South Asian between the foul lines. However, Ohtani carefully chose to join the comparably smaller-franchise Los Angeles Angels after a month-long contract negotiation with the Fighters.

While it is too early to say whether he will succeed more in batting or pitching, Ohtani made his official MLB debut as a designated hitter and Asoan a single. After hitting his second home run of the season — this time against American League Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber — on Wednesday, he seems to be finding his rhythm. If you go to ESPN. Ohtani is an Asian baseball player — just like how I am an Asian-American baseball fan — and he is not just trying to dominate this league.

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Ohtani is also accomplishing this all while living in a foreign country with a starkly different culture and racial discrimination against Asians. His story makes me think of my own grandparents, who left South Korea to live in the United States in the s and faced similar challenges. Louis Cardinals fan since birth, which dictates I should not love an Angels player as much as I love Ohtani. Asian players make up a very small percentage of the MLB. As of recent years, they are around two percent of the league. In other words, I watch a lot of baseball but see few players that look like me — an East Asian.

I will always hold the highest regard for Ichiro Suzuki for both his contributions to baseball and for embracing his status as an Asian pioneer, but he alone is not enough. If anything, he is evidence that I should be able to look forward to even more celebrated Asian baseball players like him in the present and near future. Ichiro was a tactful hitter and his 3, hits will undoubtedly land him a place in the Hall of Fame, but Ohtani is potentially a home-run power hitter — therefore defying the prevailing stereotype that Asian players are only good for pitching or playing small ball.

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