The Naperville Little League have bases loaded this summer as they teamed up with the Park District for a run much different than the norm.
“Somebody from Beijing contacted us regarding hosting Chinese families, for a week long visit in August, and this all started last January and we said we’d be thrilled to do it and we were honored that they contacted us,” said Larry Lucas, Operations Manager for the Naperville Little League.
The Jiapao Baseball group also known as “The Homerun Team” from Beijing travelled more than 7,000 miles to learn where exactly baseball came from.
“Baseball is a sport from the United States so we had to let them know what the original baseball culture, what the original baseball field, how to communicate with other English speaker players so that’s why we here,” said Kang Kang, Founder of the Jiapao Baseball team.
“I want to learn more about a job in baseball and learn the rules and play more, and learn more stuff in America and watch the baseball game ,” said Steven Chao, Jiapao player.
And lucky for the kids, they will spend the next few days in clinics, hosted by former Major League All-Star Steve Ontiveros, who will help them to develop as players.
“What I get to do is take some things that I’ve learned as a player and take some of those things I’ve learned as a coach and impart them on to younger players so that they can actually excel as they get older,” said Ontiveros.
Kang hopes his team of boys and girls will also pick up some life skills from the game.
“Baseball is not so popular in China but more so in cities like capitol Beijing, so I hope the team can learn more teamwork and sacrifice, and something from baseball,” said Kang.
Players from the Jiapao Baseball team will be staying with Naperville Little League families throughout the week and traveling to different places around the city.
And as for Kang, he hopes the Naperville team will step up to the plate next year to check out their part of the world.
“Say hi to all the people in Naperville and hope some day that the American kids can go to Beijing and live in our home and we can practice in Beijing someday,” said Kang.