Ready for practice.

Little League Baseball in Argentina

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A calm and breezy afternoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina, pitted two second-division baseball teams to play at the National Baseball Stadium of Argentina, a venue no larger than Ohio University’s own Bob Wren stadium.

A close game that played by well-spirited players, the game’s attendance peaked at only 4 attendees.

Meanwhile, by the stadium’s vending area, several young kids, aged between 12 and 16, just finished practicing for the Junior and Pre-Junior levels within the Argentinian baseball system; these kids are on a mission to represent their country in the sport, while also finding a way to play a sport that they love.

“I, for example, don’t like any other sport that’s commonly practiced here in Argentina,” Damien Mandará, a 13-year-old who plays Pre-Junior, said. “All my life I wanted to play baseball, and I never found a place for it.”

While many of his friends dream of their meeting their idols on the football pitch, Mandará and his teammates continue to work quietly on the baseball fields without any fanfare or hopes of major fame.

Ever since the Argentinian Football Association was founded in 1893, association football became part of the Argentinian image. Today, there are 9 stadiums within the Buenos Aires province and autonomous city that can hold over 40,000, and nearly all youth in the country plays football recreationally.

Argentina does not keep all of its loyalty to soccer, however: other sports have found a niche in the country thanks to superstars that have risen to the spotlight in the last couple of years. Basketball fans, for instance, thank San Antonio Spurs veteran Manu Ginóbili for the sport’s popularity since the 2000’s.

Baseball fans in Argentina, however, are still looking forward to their own superstar to hit American shores and shine in the MLB.

Mandará would be eager to meet this player, whoever he may be.

“I would like to meet him to congratulate him” he said. “everyone is going to know that an Argentinian made it to the highest level in another sport, and the sport will be able to open doors, because right now the doors are closed. You can’t do anything.”