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Million-dollar boys

other Updated: Nov 25, 2008 22:44 IST

Two Indian teenagers created history in the US sports Monday when they were signed up by prestigious baseball team Pittsburgh Pirates, five times World Series Champions, as professional players.

Rinku Singh, 20, and Dinesh Kumar Patel, 19, were signed up by the Pirates after the duo emerged winner of the "Million Dollar Arm" contest held in India, in which more than 30,000 Indian youth participated.

The person who could throw the most pitches 85 miles per hour or faster for strikes was adjudged the winner.

"Singh and Patel are the first-ever Indian-born players to sign a professional sports contract outside of the country, which has a population of more than 1.1 billion people," Pittsburgh Pirates said in a statement on Tuesday.

The club's vice president and general manager, Neal Huntington hoped that the success of these two Indian baseball players would lead the US baseball clubs into the untapped market.

"By adding these two young men, we are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market," he said. It is the inherent talent of both Singh and Patel in throwing baseball which attracted the attention of the club.

"We are intrigued by Patel's arm strength and Singh's frame and potential.

“These young men have improved a tremendous amount in their six month exposure to baseball and we look forward to helping them continue to fulfil their potential," Huntington said.

Singh and Patel, who were born in Bhadohi and Varanasi, respectively, in Uttar Pradesh, were brought to the United States in May after the contest and trained by the club's trainers.

Singh is the youngest of the nine children in his family, while Patel comes from a family of five brothers and sisters.

Neither of them knew English when they came to the US and picked up the language by watching Baseball Tonight and by taking online classes.

“For the both of us, it's a dream come true," Patel was quoted as saying by USA Today.

"We're very happy that we get to stay together," Singh said. “It will make it easier for both of us that we are now staying together. It is indeed a huge honour and we are hoping to give our best,” he added.