Uganda is known more for its long-distance sprinting than anything else. Ugandan Baseball is a foreign concept to most in the country. Despite that, one Ugandan baseball player has made history and has become the first person from the country to play in an American collegiate league. His name is Dennis Kasumba, and he is ready to make history.
Ugandan Baseball Player: Humble Beginnings
Kasumba worked at a slaughterhouse when he was only 14 years old. He lost his father to the Uganda civil war and his mom deserted him when he was still just a baby. He grew up in extreme poverty with only his grandmother as family. He was then recruited for a local Ugandan baseball team. There, he played catcher and soon found a purpose in life besides just surviving.
He would soon start posting his progress on social media where he would show how he would practice. He would have old tires and would slide in the mud to help practice. Most of these were posted in February and March when the perfect storm for international baseball was occurring.
International Baseball on the Rise
The World Baseball Classic was going on and the baseball world had opened its eyes to nations that it never did before. With that Kasumba’s posts started to go viral and were connecting to the right people. He was later contacted and recruited for the MLB Draft League, a summer collegiate league that showcases the top prospects for each summer’s MLB draft.
Despite the success, there was still one big obstacle, a visa. The issue was that because he didn’t have parents it would be hard to prove that he would return back to Uganda after. But after three attempts, he finally got his visa. He would be going to Maryland to play with the Frederick Keys. From a small village to a ballpark that seats over 5000 people. It was a huge step up and Kasumba was ready.
Kasumba would struggle in his first game with the Keys. He would strike out in his first two times at bat and would be walked in his third time at bat. After that, he would get out on the bases. He would later be replaced by another hitter by the ninth inning. Kasumba hasn’t played in a game again for the team but he has still remained positive on social media.
The biggest change that Kasumba has been given was the quality of coaches and staff and equipment he can work with. Despite his struggles, he now has top-of-the-line equipment that he is able to take advantage of. Also, with an 80-game season, he will have more opportunities to improve. While other players are there to get noticed by the MLB, he is there to soak it all in and make history for his nation.
A Veteran Coach
He will also be coached by Rene Rivera, who played 542 games in the MLB for 10 different teams. Prospects and many others will get to know Kasumba as well. It’s an underrated part of baseball that many fans don’t take into consideration but for him, it will be a huge upgrade.
No African country was represented in the WBC. But the sport has shown massive growth in the continent. Ugandan baseball is one of the big examples of this growth and with Kasumba there is a possibility that the nation could be the next African powerhouse. What happens next for him and Uganda is only up to them.
Let us know your thoughts on this Ugandan baseball player and if we will see Ugandan baseball earn a trip to the next World Baseball Classic in the comments below!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images