BASEBALL IN MALAYSIA
Baseball was first introduced to Malaysians in the mid-1970s when several US based corporations, including Texas Instruments and Smith-Kline Beecham, setup their manufacturing operations in the Keramat Industrial Park in Kuala Lumpur, as well as in Penang. Most of the plants in operation at the time were managed by a large group of American expatriates, who in turn, introduced slow-pitch, fast-pitch and baseball games.
As most of the expatriates are of senior in age, they’d prefer the leisured version of baseball, which is slow-pitch, and such games were commonly played after working hours as part of their recreational activities. Then, Softball was introduced into the Malaysian School Systems as an Extra Co-Curriculum in 1980s, for which the game gained the interest of young players rapidly, especially in the central and northern regions of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Kedah and Perak. It was only in the late 1980s that southern and eastern regions states of Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the East Coast regions of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang adopted the game fully into their education system. With the introduction of ASTRO (a paid satellite television service) to Malaysians in 1996, viewers were able to watch live and recorded MLB baseball games through ESPN. It was due to this factor, a group of individuals spearheaded the formation of Baseball Association in Malaysia, but was only officially formed as the Persatuan Besbol Amatur Malaysia, or the Amateur Baseball Association of Malaysia in 2001, led by its founding President Dato’ Noh Abdullah.
In 2004, Baseball was accepted as the 42nd sport of Malaysia by the National Sports Council of Malaysia, for which it qualifies to receive governmental assistance and financial aid in its development programs.
In 2007, the Sports Commissioner of Malaysia (which governs all sporting assocation and bodies in Malaysia) granted the change of name to the Baseball Federation of Malaysia, recognizing it as the National Sport Association and governing body for the Baseball sport in Malaysia.
There are basically 4 types of competitive baseball tournaments in Malaysia:-
- President’s Cup (A Bi-Annual National-Level Close Baseball Championship for adults) – Organized by the Baseball Federation of Malaysia
- Raja Muda Cup (An annual regional inter-varsity Baseball Championship for Seniors) – Organized by the respective participating Universities, in rotation.
- MALB (A yearly central National Open Club-Level Baseball League for adults) – Organized privately and supported by the Baseball Federation of Malaysia
- MALB Asean Series (A quad-annually regional Club-Level Baseball Championship for adults, open to clubs from the South East Asian countries) – Organized privately and supported by the Baseball Federation of Malaysia
For Championships, the 1-round elimination format is used, with the top 4 teams proceeding to semi-finals and then final.
For League Games, the 2-round robin league format is used, with the top 4 teams proceeding to Play-Offs (semi-finals and final).
The tournament standard 9.5” leather ball is used in all tournaments and leagues. The usual brands are Mizuno 150, Diamond DOL-1 and Diamond DOL-2.
For National tournaments and championships organized by the Federation, only wooden bats are allowed. For club level tournaments and leagues, the wooden and aluminum -3 adult bats are used. Usual brands are Mizuno, Rawlings, Louisville Sluggers and DeMarini.
Gloves and Mitts are scarcely available with dominant brands being Mizuno, Rawlings, Easton, DragonFly, Nagai, McGregor and Wilson.
There are no proper baseball or softball pitch available in Malaysia, thus all tournaments and competitive games uses converted soccer fields, with a make-shift backstop.
There is only 1 batting cages available throughout Malaysia, located on the roof of 1-Utama Shopping Centre, in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It comprises of 4 Baseball cages, 4 Softball cages and 1 pitching cage. Its operated by Its-A-Hit Company, owned by Tim and Janet Freebairn.
Spearheaded by the Federation, numerous development programs were conducted and implemented throughout the years, namely:
- Introductory Coaching Clinic 2007, jointly organized with BFA
- National Baseball Coaching Clinic 2011, jointly organized with BFA and the National Sports Council of Malaysia
- Inaugural North Zone Inter-varsity Baseball Tournament 2011
- Joint Venture with Waseda University Tokyo, Japan in the provision of Baseball technical support and expertise to Malaysia
BASEBALL COACHING AND UMPIRING
Almost all Baseball Coaches in Malaysia comes from Softball coaches. The fraction diverted to Baseball coaching on their own and obtained their knowledges through books and videos. Only through the National Baseball Coaching Clinic that 23 of these coaches were properly trained in the fundamentals and technicalities of Baseball Coaching. However, only a small number of them are truly certified, having attended various Coaching Clinics and Seminars outside Malaysia, as well as having trained in Sports Science from local universities.
Most of the available umpires in Malaysia too are of either Softball trained umpires of they which studied and practiced baseball umpiring informally, and experienced baseball coaches.
The Federation realizes the importance of umpiring in the overall development of baseball, thus measures has been taken to formalize and organize such trainings.
MALAYSIAN BASEBALL IN INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS
Malaysia has sent its National Baseball Squad to various international meets and tournaments, namely:
- SEA Games 2005, Manila, Philippines (5th Place)
- SEA Games 2007, Bangkok, Thailand (6th Place)
- Asian Baseball Cup 2009, Tournament, Bangkok, Thailand (8th Place)
- SEA Games 2011, Palembang, Indonesia (Confirmed participation)
Despite its results, Malaysia is proud that unlike any other countries within the Southeast Asian region, Malaysia’s Baseball Team was home trained and coached by coaches and trainers with no formal baseball education or experience.