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Yankees set to formalize PRC baseball deal

Yankees set to formalize PRC baseball deal

The New York Yankees are taking the first significant step by a Major League Baseball team toward building the sport in the world's most populous country.
Four executives of the Yankees, led by club President Randy Levine, travel to Beijing next week to complete work on a partnership with Chinese baseball's governing body.
An agreement would be the Chinese Baseball Association's first with a major-league team and would allow the Yankees to send coaches, scouts, player-development and training personnel to China, while hosting Chinese staff at the Yankees' facilities in the U.S. The accord might help the Yankees expand their brand and all major-league teams set up baseball academies in China, which has a population of 1.3 billion people.
"There's tremendous opportunity to grow the game off the field as well as on the field," Levine told reporters today. "We intend to spend some serious man hours and money to make this work."
Levine said he accepted the invitation after six months of discussions with Chinese baseball officials. Major League Baseball has an office in Beijing.
Baseball was played in China until 1959, when Chairman Mao Zedong outlawed it as an "evil" western influence, according to the league's Web site. The sport returned to the country in 1975 and the Chinese Baseball League was formed in 2002.
A year ago, the country fielded a team in the World Baseball Classic, losing all three games in its pool by a combined score of 40-6. Baseball will be played in China as part of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
"It's in its infancy stage, but it's already over there," said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, who also will make the trip. "I'm excited to get over there and assist Major League Baseball's efforts and, obviously, pitch the Yankee flag at the same time."
Levine said other major-league teams have visited China but the strength of the Yankees' brand helped forge a relationship with the Chinese Baseball Association. The team will be joined by Major League Baseball International officials during the trip, and Levine said other teams should help build the game in China as well.
China has no players, coaches or officials in the major leagues. Cashman said Major League Baseball's long-range goals are to have Chinese children choosing baseball over soccer and basketball, currently the country's most popular sports, though it's tough to tell how soon the country could make an on-field impact in the U.S.
"Hopefully, it can be years, not decades," Levine said.
The Yankees' contingent, including Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman and Vice President of Sponsorships Michael Tusiani, will also visit Japan. The Yankees have a partnership with the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's biggest newspaper, and have signed Japanese All-Stars Hideki Matsui and Kei Igawa.
The Yankees' roster also includes pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, a native of Taiwan, where baseball is a major sport.


Updated : 2021-07-29 13:02 GMT+08:00