Below is an email interview with Iranian baseball coach Mehrdad Hajian. Mehrdad joined Baseball United today. Welcome, Mehrdad!
1-What is your name? Explain your role with baseball in Iran.
My name is Mehrdad Hajian. I am currently the head coach for Azarakhsh (Thunderbolts) baseball team of Tehran and the Iranian national team.
2-How long has baseball been played in Iran? How many players/teams?
We have been playing Baseball since 1994. There are 12 teams and around 1000 baseball players in Iran.
3-How do the players know about baseball? Have any of them spent time in the US?
Actually, I am probably the only one who has spent any extended time in the U.S. We have 2-3 other players who lived in the states but they are out of baseball now. In the beginning I used to recruit whoever looked athletic from the English classes I taught. In those years, I coached and also played for Tehran team and also went to different cities and showed them how the game is played. later we had an Italian coach and Umpire come to Iran for a couple of weeks. That got more people interested. Also after a few years, the players that learned the game in Tehran went to other cities and taught them. We have also had few American coaches, some of them former major league players, come to Iran through Global Sports Partners and conduct clinics. Although, this has stopped in the last few years.
4- What countries does the Iranian National Team play against?
We mostly play West Asian Teams in the West Asian games (Pakistan, India, Sri lanka, Afghanistan ...) But we have also played Thailand, Malaysia, Iraq, Hong Kong ... Youth tournaments in Dubai, Asian Games, Etc.
5-What do people of Iran think about baseball? Do they view it unfavorably because the sport started in America?
People don't care much where it is originated. Baseball doesn't get much support here simply because this is Football country.
6-Is baseball played throughout the country? Or only in certain cities?
Baseball is only played in the 12 cities that I mentioned.