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On an evening outing with his family, the coach at Lucknow Sports College Deepak Sharma is waiting for a long-distance call. The news has reached him that two of his former wards — Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel — have created sporting history by becoming the first professional baseball players from India after being signed by the Pittsburg Pirates.
The two will now be part of the team's minor league spring training next year.
Sharma is overwhelmed by the sudden change of fortunes for the two former javelin throwers from remote UP, who were spotted during a country-wide talent hunt for pitchers titled 'million dollar arm' about eight months back. "It's destiny," says a philosophical Sharma as he speaks about the boys from modest families. While Dinesh's family in Varanasi is into farming, Bhadoi boy Rinku's father is a truck driver.
Sharma has been in touch with his boys since they left Indian shores with big dreams and a hefty bank account courtesy the million-dollar contest spoils. He recalls the conversation he had with Rinku and Patel on August 15. "They knew that we all would be together for the flag hoisting ceremony. The call came as a surprise and the phone changed several hands. They wanted to speak to everybody. It was an emotional moment and I felt great," says the coach, who would have never thought that one day the javelin hurlers would end up as baseball pitchers.
According the coach, the boys were enjoying their stay in US. "Since they are so used to our sports college schedule of getting up early and spending long hours on the field, they have adapted to the training well," says Sharma. The only thing that the duo miss, the coach says, is Indian food and the company of the sports college boys. "But to achieve something, you have to make some sacrifices," he says.
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