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26.01.2006 Sports News

Brief History of Ghana Baseball

By Albert.k.Frimpong

In the early eighties Baseball used to be played in cantonments by the children of the US Embassy staff and other US citizens at a place that used to be called Budweiser (Bud) field and until recently Brynn park named after one of the American Ambassadors (Ambassador Edward Brynn) who served in Ghana years ago .Some or a lot of young men living in and around the area at the time were given the chance by the Americans to learn and play the game there with them.

Though Albert lived in the area (Cantonments) at that time too he did not have any interest at all in the game of Baseball, but he was always there to watch and spend time with his friends who played there every Saturday morning. Somewhere along the line he developed the interest in the game and began playing seriously with the American Embassy staff then in Ghana to the admiration of his friend and mentor Peter Tamberson and the other young men.

Mr Albert k Frimpong decided to make the game a Ghanaian sport in 1988 just after he completed secondary school education. So he decided to go to the National Sports Council on a daily basis with his friend and mentor Peter Tamberson to have it accepted and made a Ghanaian sport. They went for many times without number and it became more and more frustrating and so Peter stopped going along but Albert kept going because he is not the type who gives up easily and finishes whatever he starts. This up and down paid off when he finally got the then Chief Sports Development officer (Mr Joe kwarteng ) to agree to help and accordingly he together with Albert in 1992 set up the first ever Baseball Association called (Ghana Baseball and Softball Association,GHABSA) .

It had Mr Sammy Oscar Esrkine as the first President/Chairman, Mr Sammy Ansah as the first General Secretary of the Association and the following as other members making up the first Association, himself Albert.k.Frimpong, Brigadier I.G.M.K.Kpeto, LT.Col D.J.K.Akplor, Capt. (GN) G.O.Asubonteng and Ms Nancy Nkansah (Treasurer). They began with a series of meetings and drawing up of program of activities for 1993 since they had a lot of events ahead of them. The first ever group of players who had been playing and training under their American coaches were used to form the first senior National Team and named (Rising Stars) a name given to the team by the then Head coach Marine Staff Sgt Jay Heather in consultation with Albert. In May 1993 Albert was officially appointed the first National Team captain and has in addition to his many duties as an administrator , Association member ,player etc led the team to many neighboring countries played and won or placed very well as well as traveled beyond the shores of Africa to play or represent Ghana . The National team traveled to Burkinafasso to take part in the American embassy organized regional Softball tournament code named SOFANWET (Softball Fanatics weekend tournament) and out of the 16 teams present Ghana was second. This was indeed a great achievement on the part of the team as this was their maiden tournament outside Ghana, and also a very good beginning for the Team, country and Association. On the teams return to Ghana they were hosted by their sponsors Labadi Beach Hotel, Ghana's first five star hotel at their premises to a Photo session and refreshments.

Later on when it seemed as if all was well for the game in Ghana problems set in between the Association, the general secretary and the sports council. These problems persisted till the collapse of the first Association .As result the secretariat remained and was run by Albert Frimpong and the General Secretary with help from Captain(GN) Asubonteng and occasionally the then Chief executive Group Capt.Frank Darko kumiand the likes of Mr Atta Paintsil and Mr Teye Botchway all then senior members of NSC. During these hard times the only way Albert felt he could do to keep the interest and sustain the development of Baseball was to all times keep the team busy. This he did by struggling very hard to secure sponsorship for the team to take participate in the regional Softball tournaments of the American Embassies within the sub-region in namely Niger, Mali, and Burkinafasso etc. Even though the team had all along been training Baseball there were no Baseball matches for the team to play at all in the country or outside the country. One of the reasons was mainly due to the fact that we had no contact with the international community at all and that made it very difficult for us as a group or team to operate too.

After one of our baseball matches with the Cuban community team here in Accra we met our then chief patron Honorable Kwame Peprah the then Minister of Finance whose support put us were we got to till today. Also after a few friendly matches with the Japanese community tem here too we were privileged to meet Mr. Shinya Tomonari a Japanese baseball expert and the then Deputy Director of JICA in Ghana who was introduced and accepted into the team by Albert Frimpong and subsequently appointed Team Coach. Then Albert used his influence or good relations then in the NSC to have him appointed honorary Team Manager of the National team(Rising Stars) .He left later left for Japan and returned with a lot of Baseball training and playing equipments for the National Team and the country as a whole. These things he brought made us play and look like real Baseball players indeed. His colleague Mr. Kenji Sharyo, then a MD of ITOCHU corporation was appointed the Technical Director of the National team as well, and he also brought a lot of equipments to us too.

It was not surprising therefore that a lot of Japanese cameramen and celebrities and ordinary people came to visit Ghana to film us training ,trained us and trained with us certain times as well. The best thing that happened to Ghana Baseball was the coming to Ghana of East Company limited a branch of Fuji TV of Japan. They made an objective documentary about Ghana Baseball which they showed weekly on their TV station to about twenty million viewers weekly and this made us very popular out there. It was again not suprising that three of the key players namely Albert Frimpong (National Captain), Jimmy Davies and Paul Manoma were invited to Japan for a Filming and Training tour. They trained with one of the topmost professional teams there called (FUKUOKA DAIEI HAWKS) in Fukuoka, Japan. On our return we immediately began preparing for the up coming 7th All Africa games in Johannesburg. A few months later the Association was reconstituted and with Captain (GN) G.O.Asubonteng as the new Chairman and, Alex Adjei (General Secretary), Albert. Frimpong, .W.K.Aggo, Theophilus Attoh ,Shinya Tomonari ,Kenji Sharyo andR.O.Lamptey as the new members too.

Just after the formation of the Association Mr Naohiko Tsutsumi the very first Japanese volunteer coach was brought to Ghana from Zimbabwe and things took a turn for the better.Prior to Mr Tsutsumi`s arrival one of the most famous and well respected Japanese Baseball players YOSHIHIKO TAKAHASHI who hold the all time record for getting a hit continuously in more than fifty games in a row in a season had visited the team a few times to train them as well as Mr YOSUKI MURAI also an expert pitcher based in Zimbabwe too. They both upgraded the playing skills of the national team tremendously. Ghana played Nigeria and Togo on a lot of occasions and improved from match to match. It was not surprising therefore when Ghana qualified for the all Africa games in South Africa in 1999. In South Africa, playing for the first time in freezing and winter conditions we managed to emerge fourth in the competition. We should have come out second or at third but that was all we could do under such adverse weather conditions.

Through the efforts of the new Baseball Association in Ghana then headed by Capt (GN) G.O.Asubonteng and the Japanese management of both Mr. Tomonari and Mr. Sharyo five children were sent to Japan to participate in the world children's baseball fair. Over the years the people who have been of great help to Baseball in Ghana are the Americans who started us from the beginning, then along the line some Cubans came through to help briefly.

The people who have continued from where the Americans left off are the Japanese, both as individuals and organizations within the country and overseas. Though all has not been smooth sailing they have still been of great help to us.

The success of the Ghana Baseball Association and in particular the National Team (Rising Stars) can be attributed to the support and assistance of the Japanese in Ghana and back in Japan.Also there are a lot of people who have been of tremendous help financially and so on but have preferred to stay quiet and in the background. Of special mention is Mr Paa Kwesi Yankey, a businessman and contractor and among others. Not forgetting the press who have given us all the needed publicity and support that has made us well known today. Of special mention here are Mr Yaw Ampofo Ankra(Joy FM/BBC) ,Charles Osei Assibey (Peace FM/ and now Happy FM), Kojo Frimpong (Joy FM /TV3) Andy Kwao(Graphic ),Maurice Quansah (graphic ) ,Cecil Adom (GNA) and all the many friends in the media whose names we cannot write down. We really appreciate all their efforts for the development of Baseball in Ghana. The Ghana Baseball and Softball Association, the entire playing body and all lovers of Baseball are grateful to all who helped with the development.

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