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About 35 years ago, Kuldeep Patel travelled to North Carolina as a 16-year-old to help at his uncle’s restaurant and ease the burden on his single mother in Mumbai. Like other people of Indian origin in the United States, his “American dream” would not have featured life around baseball — the country’s most popular sport. But his passion for sports saw him play international cricket for the US.
Kuldeep’s son, however, has gone where his dad didn’t. Karan, 22, was picked by Chicago White Sox two weeks ago, making him the first player of Indian origin to be drafted in Major League Baseball (MLB).
“It’s very special for the Indian community here. Many kids are now starting to believe they can excel in American sports too. The senior players in the MLB are starting to know that I am the first of Indian origin to be among them and they are quite in awe,” Karan’s told TOI. “Generally, Indian parents here push their children into academics or maybe allow them to play just cricket,” he said.
In 2008, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became the first Indians to be associated with MLB when they were picked through a talent hunt to train under MLB teams.
Neither could make a mark in baseball but Rinku is now a professional wrestler working in World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) developmental territory.