Forget multi-million-dollar salaries, commercial endorsements or plush clubhouses. Without a proper field, uniforms or even other teams to compete against, players on Georgia’s one and only baseball team are motivated purely by passion for the game.
For spring training this year, Georgia’s national baseball team didn’t head to Florida or Arizona. Instead the players went underground, holding some workouts in the boiler room of a Tbilisi sports club. Lacking a proper baseball diamond, the team held outdoor practices at Tbilisi’s old horse track, or in a vacant field in the Tbilisi suburbs.
The lack of a home field doesn’t mean the players don’t have a feel for the game. Many members of the current squad – who range in age from 15 to 30 -- have distinguished themselves in international tournaments. At one junior competition in Italy in 2009, the Georgian team managed to beat some more experienced, better financed European squads.
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Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi and editor of the American Chamber of Commerce’s Investor.ge magazine.