August 8, 1988 |
|Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
Early Life in Bhadohi
Singh's family grew up in poverty; his father, a truck driver for 35 years, earned roughly $25 per week. Of the family's seven children, two of the four boys serve in the Indian military. Another earned a scholarship to a sports school. A former javelin thrower and cricket player, Singh was accepted to a sports school but did not attend, and was considered lazy by his family and village of Holepur, India.
Million Dollar Arm
In early 2008, Singh entered an Indian reality television show, The Million Dollar Arm. The contest was created by American sports agent J.B. Bernstein to find the individual in the country who could throw the fastest and most accurate baseball. Having never heard of baseball before, Singh won the contest out of over 37,000 participants after throwing 87 miles per hour. The grand prize for the contest was $100,000.
After winning the contest, Singh and runner-up Dinesh Patel travelled to Los Angeles where they trained with University of Southern California pitching coach Tom House, who trained pitchers such as Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. On their first day in the United States the two attended their first baseball game at Southern California. They continued to learn the game from House and Bernstein, as well as learning English.
Professional Baseball Career
The pair tried out in front of scouts from 20 Major League Baseball teams in November 2008, and Singh's pitches reached 92 miles per hour (148 km/h). Reports from Pittsburgh Pirates scouts Joe Ferrone and Sean Campbell led to general manager Neal Huntington signing both to contracts with the organization. With the deal, the pair became the first Indians to sign American major league baseball contracts. The total signing bonus for the two was $8,000. After training, the two returned to visit their families in India before entering Pirates training camp in Bradenton, Florida.
The 2009 GCL Pirates had nine players each from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, with the United States a distant third at six. There were the two highly publicized, pioneering Indian pitchers, Singh and Dinesh Patel, a second baseman named Henry Henry from Colombia, two players from Puerto Rico, and one each from Mexico, Panama, Australia, Canada and one of the first three players ever signed out of South Africa, Gift Ngoepe, while one of the Americans, Chris Aure, is from Alaska. "We eat together in the cafeteria, but sometimes we try each other's foods," Ngoepe says. "I listen to the Indians' music when I go past their rooms, and they listen to my music from Africa. We tell each other stories about our home countries. We do everything together." "Everybody's the same here, like family," Venezuelan infielder Elevys Gonzalez says.
On July 4, 2009, Singh became the first Indian to appear in a professional baseball game in the US. He pitched the seventh inning, while Dinesh Patel pitched the eighth inning. On July 13, 2009, Singh became the first Indian-born pitcher to win a professional baseball game in America, striking out the only batter he faced. He finished the season with a 1-2 record and a 5.84 ERA in 11 games, allowing just one run on three hits in his final six appearances. Singh went 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA over 13 games with the Pirates GCL affiliate in 2010. At the end of August, Singh was promoted to the Pirates Class A Short-Season affiliate, the State College Spikes. Singh played for the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League for the competition's inaugural 2010-11 season, going 1-0 with a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings pitched. Singh opened the 2011 season in the Dominican Summer League. Singh pitched well in eight games spread over the DSL, Gulf Coast League and New York-Penn League, then joined the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League in July 2011. Singh returned to the Australian Baseball League for the 2011-12 season with the Adelaide Bite. He made the World All-Star team for the 2011 Australian Baseball League All-Star Game.
Patel and Singh's story is the basis for the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures sports film, Million Dollar Arm, where Singh will be portrayed by Suraj Sharma. In 2009, Columbia Pictures purchased the screen rights to the story of Singh and Patel. The project stalled and eventually producers Joe Roth and Mark Ciardi set the film up at Walt Disney Pictures. Upon acquiring Million Dollar Arm, Disney hired Tom McCarthy to write the film. Jon Hamm will play J.B. Bernstein.
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