I found the recent report about Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon’s visit to South Africa, as an ambassador for Major League Baseball, most interesting (“Man on Mission: Melancon’s Trip to South Africa Was Good for His Soul and His Bucket List,” March 2). From a historical perspective, baseball was played in South Africa as early as the late 1890s, mainly in the Johannesburg area and largely by Americans who had come to “seek their fortune” working on the Witwatersrand’s gold mines. The sport continued to be played in other cities such as Cape Town and Kimberley’s diamond mines, but never gained the prominence of cricket, soccer or rugby.
Generating new interest for baseball in South Africa, in a country which enjoys its sports, plus having a climate conducive to one being outdoors, will be a great start. Having a truly competitive “World Series” together “with emerging baseball scenes, such as New Zealand, the Netherlands and Italy” will make this endeavor very worthwhile and newsworthy!
JAN D. SMITH