MORE players with Filipino lineage have expressed their desire to join the Philippines in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (Paba) secretary general Pepe Muñoz said several players based abroad have reached out during the pandemic to inquire about the possibility of playing for the Philippines in the WBC, a competition organized jointly by Major League Baseball and the World Baseball-Softball Confederation.
“During the COVID, several more Fil-Am players have sent in to us their bio data and their resume and said that they want to be part of our program. There are a few more interesting players that are going to present themselves to us for the next round,” said Munoz during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
Unlike in other events sanctioned by the international federation, the WBC has a more relaxed eligibility rules in which lineage and even country of birth being some of the basis for inclusion in the team. It is this same rule that made former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, a minor player in the New York Mets system, eligible to play for the Philippines even though he is not a passport holder of the country since he was born in Makati.
Tebow was supposed to play for the Philippines in the WBC qualifiers last year but the event was postponed due to the pandemic.
Even Filipino parents submitted credentials of their sons to Paba and that includes University of California-Berkley player Darren Baker, son of Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker.
The 21-year-old Baker, whose mother Melissa has Filipino lineage, became famous for an unforgettable moment in Game Five of the 2002 World Series in which he, as a three-year-old batboy for his father’s team San Francisco Giants, attempted to retrieve a bat while two runners from the Giants sprinted home.
Fortunately, San Francisco Giants first baseman JT Snow was able to pick the younger Baker up to prevent an untoward incident from occurring, a moment still remembered by baseball fans everywhere.
“The mother was the one who sent an e-mail asking if her son could join the team. And I said, can you please submit a background about him, and she sent a whole library of videos showing his son playing. And it turned out to be the son of the manager of the Houston Astros and the wife is Filipino. Darren Baker is an interesting player to watch. We are looking forward for him to be part of the team,” said Munoz.
Baker, who plays second baseman, went undrafted in the 2020 MLB draft and decided to return to UC-Berkeley. But in his sophomore year, Baker was included in the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team for the Golden Bears.
Muñoz also made mention about the World Series incident during his talk with Baker’s mother.
“That was my joke with the mother. The Philippines needs players with World Series experience. And your son will give us that,” said Munoz.
The Philippines began competing in the WBC in 2016 during the qualifiers with a collection of Fil-foreigners from Class A and AA minor leagues and national team players, losing to Australia and New Zealand during the competition.