Hudson Valley Renegades

Renegades, Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association to Bring Bhutanese Athletes to U.S. for Bhutan Night

February 6, 2024 - South Atlantic League (SAL)
Hudson Valley Renegades News Release

Wappingers Falls, N.Y. - The Hudson Valley Renegades, the High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and the Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association are ecstatic to announce a first-of-its-kind event in Minor League Baseball, as the organizations have partnered to create Bhutan Night, a cultural program aimed at growing the game of baseball in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Athletes from Bhutan will be given a VIP experience for team's game on Tuesday, Aug. 20 against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, part of a days-long baseball, sightseeing and cultural enrichment journey in New York, a trip made possible through the sponsorship of Dutchess Tourism.

"When we first learned about baseball in Bhutan last summer, our first instinct was 'How can the Renegades be a part of this?'" said Zach Betkowski, General Manager of the Renegades. "After our first conversation with Matt DeSantis from the Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association, it was clear that this had the potential to be truly special, and the event took off from there."

"With over a decade of baseball being played in Bhutan, having this extraordinary opportunity for young Bhutanese to play ball in the very valleys where I first fell in love with the game is a heartfelt moment. We hope it inspires them to continue their journey in the sport," expressed Matthew DeSantis, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut who introduced baseball to Bhutan, and currently chairs the Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association. "We are grateful to the Renegades for their commitment to growing baseball and providing opportunities for kids near and far to learn about the professional acumen of the sport, both on and off the diamond."

As highlighted in a viral article by Michael Clair at last August, baseball has become the fastest-growing sport in Bhutan, with more than 6,000 children playing in a nation of around 700,000 citizens. The Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association has organized youth leagues throughout the country to grow the game at a grassroots level, though most kids have never seen a professional game in its entirety before, only able to watch highlight clips of MLB games to learn the sport.

As part of their multi-day excursion to the United States, the Bhutanese athletes will participate in a baseball clinic at Heritage Financial Park and a Business of Baseball panel, showcasing career opportunities in sports outside of being an athlete. They will also embark on a sightseeing tour of Dutchess County organized by Dutchess Tourism before their VIP experience at a Renegades game, including the ability to watch batting practice on the field, throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and more.

"Global collaborations in baseball empower associations in developing countries, uniting communities through the game," said Karma Dorji, the President of the Bhutan Baseball & Softball Association.

During the game, the Renegades will wear special Bhutan-themed jerseys which will be auctioned off to help raise funds to pay for the trip. The jerseys feature the Druk, the "Thunder Dragon" which is a national symbol of Bhutan and is prominently featured on its national flag, and heavily incorporates the Bhutanese national colors yellow and orange.

"We wanted to make sure that the jersey tastefully paid homage to Bhutan's national identity," said Betkowski. "They look unlike anything that has been worn on a Minor League Baseball field before, and we are so proud of how they came out."

After their trip to the Hudson Valley, the athletes will spend time in New York City, touring Major League Baseball's offices, and going on a sightseeing tour throughout NYC before returning home.

In addition to the jerseys, the Renegades will be auctioning off unique items and experiences throughout 2024 to help raise money for the trip and for Bhutan Baseball & Softball. The first auction items are available now, including signed items by Anthony Volpe and Everson Pereira. Fans can also make a direct donation on the auction page, which can be accessed.

The night is also slated to be a T-Shirt Tuesday presented by Heritage Financial Credit Union, with a special Bhutan Baseball T-Shirt to be given away to 1,000 fans.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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