Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 19 News List

US delegation to search for African baseball prodigies

AP , NEW YORK

Dave Winfield thinks Ghana could produce quality baseball players.

"We know they've got some talent. We know they kicked America's behind in soccer," the US Baseball Hall of Fame member said on Thursday before flying to Africa for a goodwill tour.

Former Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker, Major League Baseball vice president Bob Watson and former major leaguers Reggie Smith and Al Jackson also are making the trip along with New York Mets manager Omar Minaya.

"All you have to do is see the last World Cup and see how great athletes those guys were from Ghana," Minaya said, thinking back to the Black Stars' 2-1 victory last June that eliminated the US in the first round.

"You look at those athletes and you say, `Why can't they play baseball given the opportunity?'" he said.

Based on last year's opening-day rosters and disabled lists, 27.4 percent of the 813 players in the major leagues were born outside the US' 50 states.

The Dominican Republic had the most of those with 85, followed by Venezuela (43), Puerto Rico (33), Canada and Mexico (14 apiece), Japan (nine), Cuba (six), South Korea (five), Panama (four), Taiwan (three), Australia and Colombia (two each) and Aruba, Curacao and Nicaragua (one apiece).

In the US minor leagues, 2,964 of 6,568 players were born outside the 50 states (45.1 percent).

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