major league baseball
How an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners became a baseball ambassador.
The U.S. Department of State and Major League Baseball are entering a new era of “diamond diplomacy” in the Western Hemisphere. In a renewed partnership with Major League Baseball, current professional baseball players will accompany Olympic softball stars to Colombia and Panama to serve as Sports Envoys. The U.S. Department of State recognizes the unique ability of America’s national pastime to connect with youth throughout the Western Hemisphere, as baseball enjoys an especially ardent following in Central and South America.
While successful people-to-people diplomacy always requires hard work and creativity, a little star power never hurts. So when recently-retired Major League Baseball great Ken Griffey, Jr. joined 2004 Olympic softball gold medalist Natasha Watley to serve as State Department sports envoys for “Diamond Diplomacy” activities in Mexico City from February 28 to March 4, the program was destined to sparkle.
Despite Cuba’s track record of culling baseball talent, players on the island still make about as much money as an average construction worker. So it’s not surprising that one of their best players, 26-year-old center fielder Rusney Castillo, has defected from his home country in the hopes of signing with a Major League team in the U.S. This comes just months after Cuba’s recent change in policy allowing its players to sign with foreign leagues. But with the U.S.