Tag Archives: SABU

Blueprint for the Green and Gold

cover_400

We are growing increasingly frustrated with the inertia of the South African Baseball Union. In 2012 we submitted an extensively researched four year Strategic Plan to SABU for consideration.

The Mission: “To provide national leadership and develop baseball as a preferred sporting option and recreational choice, providing a framework for maximum access and mass participation
in building a healthier nation”

The Vision: “Develop and maintain baseball as an adequately resourced system at all levels of participation and that allows for the equitable delivery of school sport, recreation and competitive baseball.”

At that time South Africa was ranked 23rd in the world and uniquely positioned to derive maximum benefit from the rapid globalization of the sport of baseball. With the introduction of a South African Baseball League (SABL) we could derive immediate benefits in foreign investment, international relations and tourism. In collaboration with local national and international, private and public sector partners, we had secured investors willing to establish quality facilities to meet the needs of both elite level showcasing and participant growth of Baseball.

Two years later South Africa is ranked 31st in the world, having been passed by the likes of Hong Kong, Thailand, Phillipines and Argentina; the only efforts to grow the sport are being spearheaded by dedicated individual outside the confines of the SABU; the numbers of players in the professional ranks has remained static at eight; investors have grown impatient with the lack of response and set their sights on other southern hemisphere countries and our national championship was held without a murmur in the international baseball and scouting media?

This is a far cry from the realistic and achievable goals proposed in the Strategic Plan.

At the conclusion of this strategic plan cycle (31 December 2017),
baseball will be the sport of choice for 140,000 South Africans with a top sixteen (16) world ranking and an automatic berth in the Little League World Series. South Africa will take its rightful place as an integral part of the burgeoning international baseball structure.

I have shared the original document in the hopes of staring a dialogue that will help propel our baseball out of obscurity.

Blueprint for the Green and Gold

For the record, I am not trying to secure a position on the SABU. My son followed his dream to become a professional baseball player and my commitment is to grow the game of baseball in South Africa, leveraging my access to resources and knowledge developed over a fifteen year association with this sport from coach and manager to administrator. I also serve as the President of the Going to Bat Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of our youth by providing any child who wishes to play baseball or softball with the means and the opportunity, providing a viable alternative to other destructive options.

In this document the term “Baseball South Africa” is used generically and should not be confused with BaseballSA.com which is a website I created to  to provide players, administrators, coaches, supporters and scouts with easy access to information on the growing number of South African baseball players.

Keith Lovegrove

If a Tree Fell in the Forest…?

Image

What if the South African Baseball held its 2014 National Championships in Durban and no one in the world baseball community knew about it? Would it make a sound? No information was available on rosters, fixtures, results or notable performances? What if the only images of this important event in the South African baseball calendar were protected and posted on an obscure Facebook page called Kzn Photos?

If I was a top baseball prospect in South Africa, I would be livid? Despite numerous offers of assistance and logistical support for an online presence for baseball in South Africa, the myopic officials steadfastly keep our talent pool in the baseball wilderness.

To quote their own charter, the South African Baseball Union is the National Sporting Organisation (NSO) responsible for the administration, conduct, control, development and promotion of the sport of baseball in South Africa. I think they regularly miss the opportunity to promote not only the sport, but also its top prospects. We need to Utilise the national competition to underpin and grow the professional and international opportunities for baseball players, coaches, scorers, scouts, umpires, officials, administrators and executives. The ideal metrics to measure our national success is the the number of players maintaining professional baseball contracts (currently eight), the results the national team achieves at benchmark events and the team statistics at international events. To achieve the goals above, our players need exposure to the international scouting community, and this might be as simple as published biographies of each player participating in the IRT, readily available statistics, simple videos of individual performances and interviews and effective communication of events.

Nobody is suggesting that hordes of scouts are going to hop on planes to attend the South Africa National Championships, especially since we insist on holding the event during the MLB baseball season, but we could do an infinitely better job of bringing that event to the scouting community. Major League Baseball is going to extraodinary lengths to grow the game internationally and uncover potential talent. Disney is even making movies and holding competitions related to the quest to find the next Million Dollar Arm.

We continue to lag far behind the efforts and results shown by other countries where baseball was not a major sport. We need to step up to the plate without delay.

BaseballSA