Jul 28, 2022 - Sports

Mariano Rivera targets cricket fans with new baseball league

mariano rivera and UIBL co-founders
UIBL CEO Kanwal S. Sra (L), co-president Mariano Rivera and president/CMO Kash Shaikh. Courtesy: UIBL

Mariano Rivera's legacy is ever-present during baseball's annual trip to Cooperstown. But the Hall's lone unanimous selection isn't finished contributing to the game just yet.

Driving the news: Rivera and fellow Hall of Famer Barry Larkin are helping launch the United International Baseball League to bring their beloved sport to India, Pakistan and the Middle East.

  • That region is home to 2 billion people, 900 million of whom are cricket fans — a ready-made audience the UIBL hopes to attract to another stick-and-ball sport.
  • The UIBL will launch in February 2023 with a four-team, two-week "Showcase" in Dubai, the league announced Monday.

What they're saying: Rivera sees this as a business opportunity, but his commitment to the UIBL stems as much from sharing baseball as growing it. That's in keeping with his long-standing humanitarian streak.

  • "This part of the world, they have players. We just haven't found them yet," Rivera tells Axios. "I want to bring baseball to all the people waiting for us to teach them."
  • "I was introduced to the game at an early age — 6 years old, maybe even earlier," added MLB's all-time saves leader. "This is a game that I love and will continue to love until the day that I die."

The backdrop: This is the latest example of baseball and cricket criss-crossing the globe. MLB plays games in London and other international cities, and Major League Cricket launches stateside next summer.

P.S. … We had to ask Rivera about the Yankees, who are eyeing their second division title since he retired in 2013. He had just one thing to say: "Bring the championship back home."

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