Jeremy Guthrie pitched in his last Major League game last April with the Nationals, but his love of baseball is still evident in the work he has done since he officially announced his retirement. Guthrie traveled last week to Abuja, Nigeria to participate in the Baseball Tomorrow Academy youth baseball camp, hosted by the U.S. Embassy.
According to Guthrie, the goal is “to work with these kids, give them something that they can work on, inspire them by answering their questions, shaking their hands and showing them techniques, and inviting them to go on television and watch the things we are talking about, then, they can share it, and that’s how the game can grow in Nigeria.”
The program included 60 kids from five states in Nigeria to receive instruction on how to become better baseball players as well as lief skills. According to Russell Brooks, the Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy, Nigerians “love sports”, something they have in common with Americans.
Guthrie is well-traveled, having passed up a chance to sign with the Mets as a teenager in order to fulfill his two-year mission in Spain with the Church of Latter-day Saints. He also reconnected with his family heritage when he was part of an MLB All-Star team to visit Japan in 2014.
No Nigerian-born player has ever reached the Major League, although the country does have a national baseball team that participates in international competitions like the All-African Games. Baseball is still developing in the African continent, and those that participate seem to do so out of a strong love for the game, playing in conditions far from Major League.
The country has already produced one Kansas City sports star - former Chiefs runningback Christian Okoye. “I’ve seen some strong arms among these kids,” Guthrie adds. Perhaps Jeremy Guthrie has planted the seeds that could one day lead to the first Nigerian-born baseball player for the Royals.