Baseball can shape one’s dreams into a wonderful future. That’s the impression I came with after interviewing Bob Oettinger. Bob, who is President of the International Baseball Association (IBA) told me about his dream coming to life. His dream where baseball is spread throughout the world is starting to come to life with a baseball academy in Nicaragua.
Bob told me that the IBA was founded by a group of people in the United States who wanted to “promote the growth of baseball around the world.” As one of those people, Bob made it his mission to use baseball as a growth for others. It was decided by Mr. Oettinger and his associates (former players Dave Stewart, Brad Lesley, as well as others) that building baseball academies would be a great way to follow their dream. While this is an honorable and noble dream, it is also one that requires hard work and determination. One of the people Bob spoke to about the undertaking, MLB executive Lou Melendez said if they were serious about the dream, the “team” should go to the Dominican Republic to see how their baseball academies are done.
The Dominican Republic provides some of the world’s greatest baseball academies. They are the model that most academies follow for training baseball’s future leaders. Mr. Oettinger and his friend Mr. Joseph Ryan took a trip to the Dominican to see three different baseball facilities. Mr. Oettinger came back from this trip with a new passion for helping kids out.
Bob told me he saw kids not always playing with mitts and bats. They played baseball with any materials that could be gathered. He saw the true passion that these kids had for the game of baseball. This gave Bob an even greater belief in what he was doing. After the trip, Mr. Oettinger and the rest of the IBA discussed where they should build their training facilities. The company looked at all the possible choices and chose the country of Nicaragua.
Nicaragua (located in Central America) is home to nearly 100,000 baseball players. According to Bob, Baseball is the national sport of Nicaragua. He said that the final choice came between the nations of Panama and Nicaragua. Bob told me they ultimately chose Nicaragua because they (the company) felt more good could be done there. He described Nicaragua as having a great passion for baseball, but not having the resources to build such facilities.
From that point on, the IBA started the opening phases of their dream. The dream didn’t only involve the facilities as Bob told me, but helping kids in Nicaragua achieve their dreams. An example of this was a home run derby that the IBA sponsored in Nicaragua. The winner of the home run derby (Kenny Alegria) was given a scholarship to attend college in the United States. He is the first person in his family to attend college.
There was great pride in Bob’s voice as he told me this. You can tell from speaking to Bob that he cares for this organization and truly wants to help these kids. The International Baseball Association is a reflection of Bob’s hard work and the determination of people who want to change the world for the better. Mr. Oettinger believes that his dream can change the lives of so many people and New Jersey Baseball Magazine certainly support him and his associates in making it a reality!
NOTE: The IBA is looking for people to donate used baseball equipment for the Nicaragua facilities. If you are interested in helping a great cause, please go to the non profit website www.ibaca.org . It is a great cause and the IBA thanks you for your help!!!