At a time when the Pittsburgh Pirates were at one of the lowest points of their 20-year losing skid, someone felt it would pay dividends to go out and offer contracts to the top two finishers of a reality show held in India called The Million Dollar Arm. Since that time, much has happened with these two “players” along their journey which saw the ride come to an end for one of them. The other is making noise as a Pirates pitcher of late.
I’m talking specifically about Rinku Singh, a 25-year-old left-handed relief pitcher from India. Originally a javelin thrower, Singh saw the opportunity in the reality show and decided to take a shot. He was the ultimate winner of the contest, locating a couple of 85+ mph fastballs in the strike zone. After winning the reality show in 2008, Singh traveled to USC for a year of training with Tim House as part of the contest’s prize. Singh would go on to make his professional debut in 2009 for the Pirates Gulf Coast League team and, in turn, became the first Indian to appear in a professional baseball game.
Overall and considering his inexperience with the sport, Singh didn’t perform too terribly in the minors, ultimately earning a promotion to A-West Virginia in 2011 and 2012. His 2013 season ended before it began because of a shoulder injury caused by poor mechanics and over-throwing.
Today, Singh has been rehabbing his shoulder and is due to report at Pirates camp in March to continue his rehab. With any luck he will be able to work back to where he last ended — single A West Virginia — to continue his journey to the major leagues. The Pirates own his contract until the 2015 season at which time he will be eligible for free agency.
Oh yeah. I mentioned something about this paying off for the Pirates. Well, it’s highly unlikely that Singh will ever make it above A-level ball, especially after the injury troubles. However, Disney is making a movie about Singh’s journey titled Million Dollar Arm. Perhaps the Pirates’ front office will see some royalty payments or, at the very least, additional revenues from ticket sales at PNC Park (or at least for the West Virginia Power) due to the publicity of this film. Yeah, it’s about as likely as Singh making it to the show. Best of luck to him, though.
Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.