Rinku's village doesn't know baseball but they're all pitching for him

They are not exactly sure what baseball is, or even javelin for that matter. However, in and around Rinku Singh's village Holepur in Bhadohi, the news of his $100,000 throw catapulting him to San Francisco has reached fast.

The Singh family did not celebrate Holi this year owing to the death of a member of the family. But celebrations are on in right earnest since Rinku was announced the winner of the India leg of the 'Million Dollar Arm' contest in Mumbai on Sunday.

He threw a ball at 87 mph to win the contest, earning himself a cheque of US $100,000 and an invitation to San Francisco, where baseball professionals will finetune his pitching talent for a year. Then Rinku, along with other regional winners of the global contest, will be presented before representatives of 30 major league baseball teams who might want to sign up the rookie pitchers.

Rinku's truck driver father Bramhadin Singh is dazed, consulting fellow villagers to tell you uncertainly that his 19-year-old son, considered a "loafer" or wastrel, may be the next "busball" star.

Having driven a rickety truck for 35 years, transporting cement from Renukoot in Sonebhadra to Nepal, to support his wife and seven children, the 50-year-old retired just six months ago. Two of the four sons are jawans in the Army and BSF, serving on the faraway Bangladesh and Pakistan borders, and they have a small agricultural plot, but it has been difficult to make ends meet.

"I have brought up my seven children in abject penury. Sometimes, we even slept on an empty stomach. But Rinku, my youngest, has ended up becoming the most talented son," says mother Antaraja Devi, dabbing at her tears.

Rinku's parents admit readily that they never believed he would one day turn around their futures since sports was the only thing he was good at. Though he was selected for the Lucknow Sports Hostel last year on account of his javelin talent he won silver medal at the Junion National Athletics Championship at Vijaywada in November 2007 for them it was only "bhala fenk".

... contd.

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