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A growing love of the game

Rushane Stewart and Damion Thomas hope to bring a love of baseball to their homeland, Jamaica. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
August 02, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Got baseball?

Around here, the answer to that is often "of course." But until recently, in Jamaica — from where Rushane Stewart and Damion Thomas hail — that has not been the common reply.

With help from Southbridge resident Wallace Mackenzie, the two have been trying to proselytize the wonders of the game (alongside some Baptist religion) to their neighbors and friends for the last couple of years. They recently spent some time here to get better acquainted with the game — one Thomas admits he's never played, despite being president and coach for the little league in Portland, Jamaica.

"Baseball is growing in Jamaica," Thomas said. " [But] some training clashes with other sports. For the last two years, we've seen kids with the desire to play baseball and go somewhere."

Stewart, 16, is one of those kids. He developed an interest in the game by watching cable and Internet broadcasts of Red Sox games, but actually started playing it in 2006 as a pitcher and shortstop. Given the fact that there are few baseball players in his country, he has been able to participate in the Little League World Series and other tournaments since then, traveling for games in Puerto Rico, New York and Bonaire.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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