The spring is upon us, and that means it’s time for baseball. Or, for Spanish speakers, beisbol. If you hail from Japan, it’s yakyū. Chinese-speaking players say bàngqiú, while Koreans call it yagu. No matter what language they speak, though, people all over the world love baseball.
Long known as the “national pastime” in the United States, the sport’s global popularity has grown so much that Major League Baseball now features players from over 20 different countries. Even though kids all around the world love baseball just as much – or more – than many Americans, the best players still all strive to play in the top league in the United States. More than a quarter of the players in MLB now hail from foreign countries. Some of the game’s biggest stars – like the Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig and Japanese pitching aces Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka – have traveled thousands of miles to compete against the world’s best players.
However, life in the majors is not as easy as immigrant players like Puig, Darvish, and Tanaka sometimes make it look. In addition to getting used to the extreme difficulty of professional baseball in America, most foreign-born players must overcome language and cultural barriers in order to succeed.
For American fans, it’s important to remember that some of their favorite players are young men working hard to fulfill the same dream as millions of American immigrants before them.