Baseball United logo. (Graphic Courtesy of Baseball United)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
On Thursday in Dubai, Baseball United announced the final two franchises that will make their debut during the league’s first-ever showcase event in November.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons and the Dubai Wolves will be the final two teams announced for Baseball United until next season when the league plans to expand further. Baseball United is the first professional baseball league located in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.
The Dubai Wolves will have former Major Leaguer Felix Hernandez as their honorary general manager and former Major League manager John McClaren will be at the helm during the league’s first season.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons will have Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera as their honorary general manager and former Major League pitcher Dennis Cook will be the manager for the organization.
Baseball United also announced on Wednesday that former Major Leaguer Nick Swisher will join the league in their ownership group.
“Our team and I are so grateful and excited to welcome Nick into our ownership team. He not only was an All-Star and a champion on the field, but he’s also one of the most charismatic baseball personalities of this generation,” Kash Shaikh, the President, CEO, and Majority Owner of Baseball United, stated on the league’s website.
“It’s such an honor to be able to grow the game of baseball alongside Kash and this legendary ownership group. I’ve spent my entire life in and around the game, and I truly believe that Baseball United is a game-changing opportunity to transform baseball into a global sport. We have the right team, the right plan, and the right culture in place to go make history,” Swisher stated on the league’s website.
Baseball United’s franchises will be located in Gulf Cooperation Council member nations and south Asia. The GCC countries include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Baseball United hopes to have franchises in South Asia in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives.
The Mumbai Cobras and the Karachi Monarchs were the first two franchises announced.
Former Major Leaguer Chris Sabo will manage the Mumbai Cobras, and Miguel Tejada will manage the Karachi Monarchs in the league’s first season. Former Major Leaguer Adrian Beltre will be the honorary general manager for the Karachi Monarchs and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will be the honorary general manager for the Mumbai Cobras.
The four organizations will each draft 16 players and can add four international prospect signings prior to the start of the Baseball United showcase event in November.
Baseball United will have their first-ever draft on September 19, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 11 a.m. EDT, and the draft will be streamed on all Baseball United social media pages.
Cincinnati is the birthplace of professional baseball in the United States, fielding the first team of professional players in 1869. The Baseball United draft marks the beginning of a new league that can possibly produce a lot of exposure to the sport on the other side of the world.
The stated goal of Baseball United is to grow the sport to the two billion people across India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, an area with nearly one billion cricket fans, according to Baseball United President, CEO, and Majority Owner Kash Shaikh and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, John Miedreich.
Baseball United will play its first ever four-team showcase event at the Dubai International Stadium, which is mainly used for cricket, from November 9-12.
The league will stock the teams with players from international professional leagues, players with experience in the lower minor leagues in the U.S., and independent league players, as well as potentially developing players from the countries where the league places franchises.