REDS TOP CAPITALS IN VIETNAM'S FIRST PONY GAME
April 4, 2010 The Red River Reds charged to an early lead and held on to top the Hanoi Capitals in the first official PONY League baseball game in Vietnam. This Bronco (U-12) Division game was held at historic Chu Van An High School on the shores of West Lake in the capital city of Hanoi. Photos of the game can be found in the Photo Album Section of this site.
Tran Trung Hieu (VIP School, 5th Grade) was the winning pitcher for the Reds. CF Nguyen Kha Duy (SIS School, 5th Grade) and SS Do Quang Hieu (VIP School, 5th Grade) each scored two runs for the Reds.
Prior to the game, a congratulatory message from PONY Baseball CEO and President Abraham Key was read to the players, parents and fans. Pony Baseball (http://www.pony.org), headquartered in Washington, PA, was founded 59 years ago. More than 450,000 youth play Pony Baseball throughout the world.
Coach Phil Rognier, Director of the First Swing Foundation (http://www.firstswingbaseball.org/) from the Seattle area threw out the first pitch to Capitals captain SS Nhu Ngoc Quoc Thinh (Nguyen Truong To Middle School, 6th Grade).
Prior to the game, a free baseball camp was held for 180 local kids by the First Swing Foundation, featuring 3 coaches (Phil Rognier, Jeff Pratt and Hans Landel) from the Klouter Tournament Team (http://www.klouter.org/) from the Seattle area and four of their youth players from the Klouter program (Chris "C.T." Tanner, Henry "The Hammer" Pratt, Beau Turner and Jordan "JoJo" Landel), as well as local Hanoi Pony Baseball coaches, who taught and demonstrated baseball skills to the local kids.
The young baseball "ambassadors" from the Klouter team were named honorary Hanoi Pony players for the day, and took part in the day's Pony game. The camp was sponsored by Microsoft, the First Swing Foundation and the Hanoi Youth Baseball League (Hanoi Pony Baseball).
The camp also featured the first ever Pitch, Hit and Run Contest held in Vietnam. Hanoi Pony players Ben Nguyen Treutler (892 Points, Alfred Nobel Middle School, 6th Grade) and Ngo Hoang Hieu (621 Points, VIP School, 5th Grade) won Vietnam's inaugural U-12 and U-10 Pitch, Hit and Run Competitions, respectively. HYBL Player "Kevin" Nguyen Tan Nguyen Khoi (Hanoi - Amsterdam Middle School, 8th Grade) won the U-14 Division with 897 Points. Pham Tuan Ky (Hanoi Academy, 2nd Grade) won the U-8 Division with 300 Points.
Highlights of the game included:
* Reds SS Do Quang Hieu was the only player recording two hits with a 2-2 outing and 2 runs scored, with 4 stolen bases. Shortstop Hieu also made a fine stop of a scalding short-hopper hit off the bat of Capital 1B/P Henry "The Hammer" Pratt in the 1st.
* Tran Trung Hieu of the Reds picked up the win on an efficient outing, and threw the first strikeout in Pony history in Vietnam in the second inning. Ben Nguyen Treutler (Alfred Nobel Middle School, 6th Grade) came on in relief and continued to hold down the Capitals, before closer Beau Turner (Seattle, WA) slammed the door getting 2 K's and allowing no hits in the final frame.
* Capitals RF Nguyen Dac Quang Vinh (Hanoi Academy, 5th Grade) caught two fly balls in rightfield. The first robbed Ben of home run in the first inning. The second was a snare of a Texas Leaguer also hit by Ben in the third inning that bounced off the First Baseman and the Center Fielder before settling in Vinh's glove. It was clear that Vinh had Ben's number on this day.
* Capitals CF "Lefty" Tong Hai (SIS, 5th Grade) wowed the home crowd when he suddenly fired a frozen rope to 1st base to nail an astonished Reds runner at first on what seemed like a routine single.
* C Jordan "JoJo" Landel (Seattle, WA) and C Pham Quoc Minh (Giang Vo Middle School, 7th Grade) played a pivotal role in the game behind the plate, as the Capitals were not able to reach 1st base on any dropped third strikes, and were controlled on the base paths. Early in the game, Quoc Minh also made a fine play in left field to cut off a sharp hit to left field by Capitals P/1B Nguyen Duc Huy (Nam Thanh Cong Middle School, 5th Grade) in the second inning preventing a sure extra base hit.
* Seattle-area fireballer Henry Pratt struck out 4 Reds in one inning after coming on in relief for the Capitals, a rare feat at any level. Two of the four players struck out reached first on a dropped third strike. "The Hammer" also made a number of fine plays at first base, including spearing a scorching line shot in the final frame.
* Capitals SS "The Rabbit" Nhu Ngoc Quoc Thinh made an outstanding play in the 1st when he back-hand speared a line shot off the bat of JoJo Landel in the 1st and ran to third to astutely double off a Reds runner.
* Reds CF/SS Nguyen Kha Duy scored two runs and had three stolen bases. Duy recorded the first hit in the history of Pony Baseball in Vietnam with a leadoff single off Nguyen Duc Huy in the first inning. Duy also recorded the first stolen base and first run in the history of Pony Baseball in Vietnam.
* Capitals 3B Nguyen Viet Anh (Chu Van An Middle School, 7th Grade) recorded a triple, and CF Tong Hai had a double for the Capitals.
* 3B Nguyen Tuan Anh (SIS, 5th Grade) subbing for another player of, coincidentally, the exact same name, Nguyen Tuan Anh (Alfred Nobel Middle School, 6th Grade) who was out ill, was Johnny on the Spot, when he got around on a Nguyen Duc Huy fastball and drilled a worm-burner that hugged the left field foul line and rolled all they way to the fence abutting West Lake to record the first home run in the history of Pony Baseball in Vietnam. The two run inside the park homer was a key turning point in the game.
* Capital Tran Gia Bach (Doan Thi Diem Middle School, 6th Grade), hit a home run to center field.
*Honorary Hanoi Pony players Jordan Landel, Beau Turner and Henry Pratt each recorded one hit in the first Pony game in Vietnam on the field which was 6,840 miles from their homes in the Seattle area! They traveled 18 hours by air to take part in the events.
*Honorary coaches included for Red River Reds: Head Coach Phil Rognier (Seattle Klouters), Asst. Coaches Hans Landel and Chris "C.T." Tanner (Seattle Klouters); for Capitals (Jeff Pratt, Seattle Klouters). Honorary team mom was Carolyn Landel (Seattle Klouters).
* Regular Coaches: Reds (Tom Treutler); Capitals (Pham Ngoc Phu).
* Coach Phil Rognier presented awards of thanks before the game to Hanoi Youth Baseball team moms Mrs. Giang, Ms. Thuy and Ms. Huong, as well as Hanoi Pony Baseball Director Nguyen Ngoc Thuy.
* The "Accidental Umpire": In a surprising coincidence, veteran umpire from Australia Mr. Lloyd was visiting from Australia and arrived in Vietnam the day before the game. He ran into the Seattle area players as they ate breakfast at their hotel prior to the game. The sight of four youth baseball players in uniform in Hanoi surprised Mr. Lloyd, and he followed the Seattle contingent to the game, where to his own surprise, he became the first umpire in Pony Baseball history in Vietnam, sparing Red River coach Tom Treutler of his usual "double duty" of being both coach and umpire. All coaches agreed that Mr. Lloyd called a great game.
* Many area coaches took part in the events of the day and helped in the camp and the game, including Mr. Arthur Graham of Hanoi Academy, Coaches Bui Hai and Nguyen Thanh Hoa of the Hanoi Baseball Club, as well as members of the FISHANU Baseball Club (Mr. Hung, Yen, Vickie and Nhung).
* The event was covered by many members of the press, and was featured on the 11 PM sports report on national TV.
* In July, 2010, Hanoi Pony Baseball will send a team to the Pony Baseball Asia-Pacific Zone Championships in Taiwan, where it will compete against teams from Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Russia and Singapore. Today's game was the first game of the eight game 2010 Pony Baseball Spring Season in Vietnam.
By: Mr. Tom Treutler
BÓNG CHÀY IN VIET NAM
It is funny how life provides so many opportunities in so many different forms! Who would have ever thought that in 2009, 30+ years after a horrific war, that an American would be taking baseball (bóng chày) into Ha Noi as a viable tool of “Baseball Diplomacy”? Not only will America’s pastime build goodwill between the two countries, it will improve the local educational system, and increase local business activity. America’s pastime creates an interactive opportunity to develop strong ties between American companies, the Viet Nam leaders/people, and allow mutual growth for all parties.
On its initial trip to Viet Nam in April, the FirstSwing Foundation provided the basis for the creation and development of youth/adult baseball program in Ha Noi and the outlying areas. The project, entitled “Baseball Connect”, was designed with the overall mission to “connect” the Vietnamese community, local and foreign businesses, and educational institutions in a cooperative effort to improve social conditions, academic/physical education, and provide a fun and healthy outside sports activity that would also promote good will between the United States and Viet Nam. FirstSwing and Coach Phil Rognier hosted Coaching Clinics for youth and college coaches, player clinics/camps, and a number of individual baseball activities. Coach Phil discovered that the Vietnamese were intrigued with the game and once they began learning how to play, became passionate, as well as “hungry”, to include it into their club recreation and formal school programs. It was evident, from the beginning, parents, students, and coaches were searching for a team sport/activity that could be played outdoors. Team sports in Viet Nam are rare and public parks/fields disallow being on the grass! Organized baseball is an excellent opportunity to form teams and provide a healthy recreational activity that encourages exercise and is also a positive alternative to indoor sedentary activities.
Three major universities, four secondary schools, and a number of elementary/junior highs took part, as well as unofficial baseball clubs to include the University of Hanoi Club, the Hanoi Baseball Club, the Hanoi Youth teams, the Amsterdam School team, and members from the United Nations International School. During the two weeks that Coach Phil and FirstSwing held the events (April 4-16th), over 2000 adults and youngsters attended, were fascinated by the game, and wanted to play immediately! NOTE: The original seeds of interest in the game of baseball emanated from reading Japanese comic books about baseball that were translated into Vietnamese. The FirstSwing events/activities were “hands-on” learning experiences with actual play and coaching, rather than vicarious readings. The response was overwhelming and the “game was on!”
Albeit, the baseball clinics and camps were rudimentary, Coach Phil and University students translated “Simply Baseball” (Coach Phil’s basic baseball primer) into Vietnamese and provided two variations, a Coaching Manual and a Players’ booklet, for the schools, clubs, and interested parents/volunteers. Moreover, the Hanoi Club took video of most of the teaching clinics and is working with Coach Phil, via the internet, to increase drills and further evolve the curricula to best fit the needs of the Vietnamese and the growth of the program. FirstSwing provided “training for the trainers”, the basic equipment, fundamental conditioning program(s), and a plan for further support of baseball in Viet Nam as well as the location of practice and game facilities. Due to the density of population in Ha Noi and lack of open spaces for fields, community leaders and educators are working diligently to adapt soccer fields and “rent” farm fields and other large tracts of raw land. “If you build it, they will come!”
A viable educational baseball program for the youth of Viet Nam is a solid and doable project. It is most important to realize that there are many viable opportunities for American corporations as well. The FirstSwing Foundation actually uses baseball as a “Trojan Horse” to teach not just the game but “life’s little lessons” and is focused upon improving the overall educational process as well as initiating a fun game for the kids to play! The Foundation utilizes the fun and playful baseball environment to empower youngsters to grow into productive citizens, loving spouses, and caring parents. The lessons of baseball are truly the lessons of life as the curriculum teaches critical thinking skills, decision-making, problem-solving, work ethic, self-discipline, cooperation, goal setting and adjustments, the value of competition, as well as basic manners, hygiene, conditioning, financial literacy, and many other “tools” for future individual and career development. Parent-child bonding is inherent within the process as the adults want to participate as much as the kids! Under the auspices of a youth baseball program, companies can easily become an integral part of the youngsters’ socialization process and create its own educated and motivated work force!
In order to best succeed in the development of a successful business plan in Viet Nam, especially Ha Noi, it is important to understand that the literacy rate in the country is rising as is the recognition of partnering with American business . The Vietnamese are very smart and industrious, but most importantly, are loyal and trustworthy. The university students want to work and make money, and are willing to do whatever it takes to get a job that will allow them to better their family’s social status and earn the monies to better their standard of living . At this point rote learning has been the rule in all levels of education, but with an innovative training program at the corporate level, they will easily adapt and provide a very intelligent, loyal, and hard-working employee base. Moreover, utilizing McDonalds’ original business and marketing plan, major companies can enter at a reasonable cost by simply focusing on the elementary and secondary school children/students and having the product base to attract their attention and increase the value of the educational programs. Sponsorship of simple scholarships, awards, and internships will gain strong loyalty to any company that will “step up to the plate” and assist the schools in motivating and teaching students English, and sponsoring higher degrees of learning. University students are readily available and equipped with the basic skill sets to be trained for entry level positions.
FirstSwing learned that most foreign companies and capital ventures are not willing to build relationships or invest time/money into a realistic training program for the workforce. Most merely use the populace for perfunctory tasks and are unwilling to develop a long-range strategy for a creative business plan that would benefit both the corporation and the Vietnamese people. This lack of respect and failure to partner will only perpetuate resentment and result in a fragile “one-way” relationship. The “short term greed=long term stupidity” philosophy has left the door open for a progressive company that realizes that Viet Nam is rapidly growing and is blossoming as a consumer nation . With the increase in literacy and numerous untapped natural resources, a motivated populace, the promise of intelligent university students, and the guidance and leadership of a visionary American company, the timing for mutually-rewarding synergy is readily available.
“Baseball Diplomacy” may have opened the door a bit wider as FirstSwing has built a strong basis of trust and friendship with local leaders in both the private and educational sectors. The development of an active youth sports program will further build allegiance and personal relationships with sponsors and companies willing to join in the fun and help the kids become proficient at the game as well as learn basic “life lessons”. Baseball is a direct conduit to a successful relationship with young and old alike, and will escalate those taking proactive measures to an influential and dominant position in the socialization process. The Hanoi Youth Baseball Club (http://www.hanoibaseball.com) and FirstSwing have united to send the first team from Viet Nam to an international tourney (Indonesia, June 2009) and have also applied for a Little League Charter. The momentum has begun and it is time to really “swing for the fences!” GAGPTH! Bóng Chày Rocks!!!
By Phil Rognier, 2 May, 2009