The 2014 Hollywood movie 'Million Dollar Arm' presented a fictionalised and exoticised version of a real story about an American sports agent who comes to India in search of talented boys who can become good baseball players. The actual talent hunt program 'The Million Dollar Arm' took place in 2008 and the two lucky men who were selected to go to USA and receive training under the aegis of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams were Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.
Though both these men became the first Indians to sign a contract with MLB teams and underwent coaching, they were not able to make a big mark. Rinku is now a professional wrestler working in WWE's developmental territory. But now, a less melodramatic but equally interesting story has unfolded in real life with a man of Indian origin becoming the first to be drafted by a MLB side.
Karan Patel was born and brought up in USA and is no different from most boys of that country. But his Indian roots are reflected in his association with cricket. Patel succeeded in becoming an international player and played for USA at that level. But at the same time, he also kept himself involved with another sport that is way more popular in America than cricket – baseball.
And now, the journey of this 22-year old has reached a new level with him becoming the first person of Indian origin or descent to be drafted into a MLB team – Chicago White Sox. The fact that he has been able to succeed in both sports makes this young man from Sugar Land, Texas a special character.
His connection to cricket came from his father who was a cricketer himself and played for USA. But as he grew up, he also started to take interest in baseball. The fact that he was a bowler in cricket meant that pitching was his favoured suit. He may have moved on in his cricket career to become, primarily, a batsman, but pitching is what he continued to excel in at college level baseball.
What's even more interesting is that he credits his experience as a cricketer for some of those qualities that have made him a success at junior level baseball. An Alumni at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the young man is able to generate speeds of up to 94 miles/hour and also has those tricks of variation in pace that pitchers use to trouble their opponents.
The Texan lad from an Indian background may just be the role model that Indian-Americans need to embrace this sport. Considering the affinity it has to their most loved sport, Cricket, there is no reason why more such players shouldn't come through. While he may not have a movie made about his own journey, he will certainly be an inspiration to many young kids