Four national baseball squads will converge in Arizona next Tuesday to begin play of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The top two teams in Pool B will advance to the second round, which will be held March 12-16 in Anaheim.
South Africa has a very inexperienced team that will face much more talented competition, but manager Rick Magnante loves his kids' attitudes and work ethic, and thinks it'll be an experience none of them will ever forget.
As they overran Phoenix Municipal Stadium, in their floppy shorts and black socks pulled up to their knees, Paul Rutgers stood at shortstop and called out in heavily-accented English, "Welcome to the big leagues." It's as big as anyone playing baseball in South Africa had ever dared dream.
Rick Magnante, who'll manage the South African squad in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March, admits that his team is a huge underdog because of a lack of experience.
Don't feel sorry for Rick Magnante, a longtime scout for the Oakland A's and manager of the South African entry in the World Baseball Classic. Win, lose or mercy-ruled out of the tournament in short order, Magnante sees the WBC as the opportunity of a lifetime for everyone involved.
The South African Baseball Union announced on Wednesday the appointment of Rick Magnante as manager and Lee Smith as pitching coach of the country's team for the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March.