DUBAI: Baseball United, the first professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, has announced that former Major League Baseball second baseman, Robinson Cano, and five other former MLB stars, have joined its ownership group.
The group includes three-time All-Star and former Batting Champion, Hanley Ramirez; 11-year MLB veteran and former MLB All-Star (MLB Japan Series), Robinson Chirinos; two-time All-Star and two-time World Series Champion, Shane Victorino; All-Star and World Series Champion, Matt Barnes; and four-time All-Star and former Cy Young Winner, Bartolo Colon.
This group joins early investors Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera, Adrian Beltre, Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, Nick Swisher and Ryan Howard as arguably the most elite ownership group in all of professional sports for on-field pedigree. Collectively, all of Baseball United’s former MLB owners have combined for more than 222 MLB seasons, 70 All-Star games and 14 World Series Championships.
“Today is a monumental day for Baseball United,” said Kash Shaikh, chairman, CEO and majority owner of Baseball United. “With the addition of Robbie (Cano), Hanley, Robinson (Chirinos), Shane, Matt and Bartolo, we’ve now put together an incredible league of legends. Our baseball investors have more than two centuries of professional baseball experience between them, and they all have performed at the highest level on the biggest stages. They’ve also all built lasting impacts off the field with their community work, philanthropies and entrepreneurial endeavors. By teaming this latest group of co-owners with the other baseball Hall of Famers and All-Stars who were already in our ownership group, our league is truly becoming a league built by players, for players.”
Cano is one of the most prolific second baseman of all-time, finishing his 17-year MLB career with more than 2,600 hits, winning five Silver Slugger Awards, and earning two Gold Gloves. He is one of only 22 players in MLB history to hit more than 330 home runs while achieving a .300 career batting average. Cano was the MVP of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic championship team in 2013, and four years prior he teamed with Rivera and Swisher to win a World Series Championship for the New York Yankees in 2009.
“I am very excited to join Baseball United as an investor and co-owner,” Cano said. “I’ve dedicated my life to this game, and this investment represents the next step in that journey. I’ve been very impressed by the vision, mission and plans that Kash, John Miedreich and the Baseball United leadership team have put together, as well as the caliber of former big leaguers who’ve joined this pursuit. Our league will create many opportunities for players and coaches from around the world, while inspiring more fans to fall in love with the game. It’s truly an exciting time for international baseball.”
In addition to Cano, the latest group of Baseball United co-owners join having had careers full of awards and accolades.
Ramirez, from the Dominican Republic, won the Rookie of the Year award for the Florida (Miami) Marlins in 2006. He was the first National League rookie to post at least 110 runs and at least 50 stolen bases in a single season, and the 46 doubles he recorded that year is still the all-time NL record for a shortstop aged 22 or younger. Ramirez won two Silver Slugger Awards and had more than 1,800 hits in his 15-year MLB career.
Chirinos spent his 11-year MLB career with the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles. He played in three Postseasons, including the 2019 World Series with the Houston Astros. Also in 2019, Chirinos caught Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter. He played for the Venezuelan National Team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and was part of the MLB All-Star team at the 2018 MLB Japan All-Star Series.
Victorino won two World Series titles, one with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, and another with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He is a four-time Gold Glove Winner, and a winner of the prestigious Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for character and integrity (2008), and the Branch Rickey Award for community service in 2011. He was also the first Hawaiian-born positional player to be named for an All-Star team.
Barnes, a relief pitcher from the US, has played 10 years in Major League Baseball and is currently a member of the Miami Marlins. He won a World Series title in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox, winning two critical games during that postseason, and compiling a 1.04 ERA. During his All-Star season in 2021, he recorded 24 saves and had 84 strikeouts in 54 innings.
Colon, a starting pitcher also from the Dominican Republic, won nearly 250 games with more than 2,500 strikeouts during his 21-year Major League Baseball career. He played for 11 different teams, including All-Star seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s and New York Mets. Nicknamed “Big Sexy,” he won the American League Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005 when he led the league with 21 wins. Colon pitched more than 3,400 innings in his MLB career.
Baseball United’s Dubai-based league launches this fall with a showcase event on Nov. 10-12 hosted at Dubai International Stadium, with its first four franchises — including the Mumbai Cobras and the Karachi Monarchs — each playing two games over a three-day period.
“Adding Robbie and this great group of baseball titans to our ownership group is an incredible feat for our league, and a huge milestone for baseball,” said Miedreich, vice chairman, executive vice president of Baseball Operations, and co-owner at Baseball United. “Their passion for the game is contagious, and their desire to give back to the community is commendable. The group that’s come together to help transport professional baseball to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is truly legendary. I can’t wait until we are all on the ground together in Dubai.”