By Petty Officer 1st Class Gino Flores
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 24, 2009 - A baseball team representing U.S. Southern Command will begin a 25-day "friendship tour" to five Latin American nations March 27 to play in exhibition games and conduct free clinics for aspiring players. The team, comprising command players, is scheduled to visit communities in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile and the Dominican Republic.
The team will participate in exhibition games with military and civilian teams and conduct clinics for various age groups. It also will visit schools, hospitals, orphanages and little leagues.
"There is no better way to forge individual bonds with our friends in the region than through personal contact," Air Force Lt. Gen. Glenn F. Spears, military deputy commander for U.S. Southern Command, said. "The nations our team will be visiting share our passion for baseball -- a sport that now enjoys a growing global following. It is this shared passion for baseball that will bring players and fans together during this tour.
"Their personal contact will cultivate many new friendships and further strengthen the existing partnerships between our countries," he added.
The tour, dubbed Baseball Partnership Tour 2009, was planned in coordination with the State Department, host governments and Major League Baseball. It affords players an opportunity to take part in camaraderie-building athletic activities as goodwill representatives of their nation and the sport, officials said.
Now in its second year, the tour represents the command's ongoing commitment to strengthening friendships with partner nations in the hemisphere through activities that range from combined military training and exercises to personal interaction outside of traditional military settings.
(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gino Flores serves with the U.S. Southern Command public affairs office.)