Baseball United Announces League’s Second Franchise Will Be In Karachi, Pakistan

The Karachi Monarchs logo. (Baseball United)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Just a few weeks after the Mumbai Cobras were named the first professional baseball franchise a part of Baseball United, a professional baseball league centered around the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, another franchise has been announced. 

Baseball United President and CEO Kash Shaikh announced the Karachi Monarchs as the second franchise of Baseball United on Tuesday via Twitter. The Monarchs will be the first professional baseball team in the history of Pakistan, and their team name, “Monarchs,” pays homage to Karachi’s cricket team, the Karachi Kings, according to Shaikh. The league will be based in Dubai, and both teams will hit the field in the fall in a showcase in Dubai.

Shaikh is also a co-owner of Baseball United to go along with his President and CEO roles. He believes Baseball United will help grow the game of baseball in the Middle East and South Asia, and that having a team in Pakistan is a great beginning. He expressed his excitement in the announcement of the Karachi Monarchs via Twitter on Tuesday. 

“Personally, this is a special moment, as my family has deep ties to Karachi, since its formation 75 years ago. Congratulations to the city, and the entire nation of Pakistan. We can’t wait to build with you,” Shaikh said on Twitter. 

Syed Fakhar Ali Shah, the president of the Pakistan Federation Baseball, is overjoyed that there will be a professional baseball team in the city of Karachi, and is proud to continue in the footsteps of his father, Syed Khawar Shah, who founded Pakistan Federation Baseball in 1992. 

“This is a significant milestone for baseball in our country, and it reaffirms our commitment to keeping my father’s vision alive,” he told World Baseball Network via WhatsApp. “These recent developments give me hope that even Major League Baseball will start considering Pakistan’s baseball development.”

Syed Fakhar Ali Shah believes organizations like the Karachi Monarchs will have a major impact on Pakistan’s interest in baseball not only in adults, but also the youth. 

“The fact that my city, Karachi, is gaining recognition in the media due to baseball is a testament to the impact this initiative can have,” Shah said. “When areas where baseball is not traditionally played or known start seeing it being played with local names associated, it will undoubtedly generate a boost in interest and participation. I wholeheartedly believe that Pakistan will be the next Dominican Republic in terms of baseball talent.” 

Even without having a single player on their respective rosters, it is expected that the Karachi Monarchs and Mumbai Cobras will be rivals come November, when Baseball United’s inaugural season begins. The cricket matches between Pakistani and Indian teams draw hundreds of million of viewers each year, and it is projected that these two new baseball franchises could do the same. John Miedreich, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and co-owner of Baseball United, stated on the league’s website that he expects to draw a considerable amount of viewers from Karachi and Mumbai fans. 

“In the United States, we have the Yankees versus the Red Sox,” said Miedreich on BaseballUnited.com. “In South Asia, they have India versus Pakistan. We’ve seen the passion and pageantry that surrounds these nations’ cricket matches. Now, we can’t wait to see all that drama unfold on the baseball diamond.” 

There remain two more franchises to be announced as members of Baseball United. After the announcement of the franchises, the first-ever player draft will be held. Teams will be able to select from roughly 200 players from the Baseball United Player Pool, and all players have played in some form of professional baseball league. Player experience could vary from Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, and the Korean Baseball Organization among many other professional baseball leagues. 

After the Mumbai Cobras named former MLB All-Star Chris Sabo as their manager and Hall of Famer and Baseball United co-owner Barry Larkin as honorary general manager, it is expected that the Karachi Monarchs will fill those positions in the near future.

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