EXCLUSIVE

Tingzon oversees baseball, softball programs in 14 countries

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With his election to the international board of the Pennsylvania-based Pony Baseball and Softball International Board, Rodolfo “Boy” Tingzon will oversee the two sports’ development programs in 14 countries in Asia.

These are Australia, Japan, Chinese Taipei, China, East Russia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Guam, India, Nepal and the Philippines.

Rodolfo “Boy” Tingzon delivers an inspirational message before a tournament. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“It’s a bigger responsibility. While before my focus was to propagate, develop and promote the sports of baseball and softball here in our country, now I have to also concentrate my efforts Asiawide or almost half of the region,” Tingzon said.

“Does it mean hard work? Of course, it is, and it will be, ” he asserted. “If you have probably noticed, except for Japan, Australia, China and Chinese Taipei, countries which already are ranked in the top 10 list in the world, all others are practically beginners in those two sports.”

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“The only thing I can console myself with is the huge trust bestowed upon me by Pony International. They expect big from us that we can improve the standard of the two sports. I’m ready,” he assured. “There already is the program we’ve been implementing the past decade or two that produced several Asian championships for the country and decent finishes in the world level.”

“All we have to do is expand the implementation to other countries that doesn’t have the program,” he pointed out. “ As before, I will be focusing on the youngest level of he Pony program – that is in the mass-based, grassroots level Mustang (9-10) age bracket. It is in this division where we can develop the interest of our kids to play baseball and softball.”

Tingzon was elected to the board, the policy-making body of Pony Baseball and Softball movement, on October 7 to 10 in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. He was the first Filipino to get the honor.

Baseball is in Tingzon’s heart since he played the game in college. He understands the infield fly rule, the hit and run, the single, double, the three-base hit, grand slam homer, how to pitch with men on, when to bunt, when the Philippines finished third in the World Championship, etc.

It’s in his blood, too. His grandfather (the late Julio Tingzon) also played the game and became a topnotch coach when he retired. Like his dad, Rodolfo “Totoy” Tingzon Sr., he became the president of the Philippine Tot Baseball/Softball Association. Like Totoy, he has been sending youth teams to Asian and world championships, winning the regional championships one after another to represent the region in the World Series.

Tingzon is inclined to follow the advocacy he’s been doing so effectively since his father Totoy left him the helm of carrying out the Pony programs for the past decade or so. That is focusing on the T-ball level, which, to him, is the ideal bracket to arouse the kids’ interest in the sports and subsequently play them.

He observed that in the Philippines, children start playing sport in school, and often, they cannot choose which sport they can excel. Tingzon said as a “basketball nation,” there are very few schools in the country that teach baseball and softball.

He said that based on his experience, once a child discovered the pleasure of hitting a t-ball, it becomes a habit.
Pony stands for Protect Our Nation’s Youth and was founded to carry on baseball development program for boys’ baseball 13-to 14-age bracket in 1951. It incorporated girls’ softball in 1976.

Today, Pony has more than one million participants in its annual program for age 4 to 23 throughout the world aimed at guiding young people to become better citizens through their exposure to the baseball and softball.

The Pony movement reached the Philippines in 1974 with Tingzon’s father as the moving spirit. At the time, the elder Tingzon was a high-ranking official of the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association, the Manila Bay Baseball League and Little League Philippines. Totoy, along with friends in Japan, went on to start the implementation of the Pony program in Asia in 1975.

Totoy’s Pony-affiliated PTBA started fielding national Bronco teams (11 to 12 age level) to the Asia-Pacific level competitions in 1979 bringing home the bacon almost always. Since then, no Philippine Bronco team ended up lower than fourth in the World tilt.

Twenty one years later in 1990, all his sacrifices and hardships bore fruit when the national 11 to 22-year squad coached by Raul Saberon finally won the world crown in Citrus Heights in California, shutting out Illinois, 10-0, in an abbreviated five-inning encounter.

That was the first time in the history of the Bronco World Series that the championship was decided via the 10-run mercy rule.

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