An offseason prep baseball team comprised of players from high schools in the Northland region of Kansas City, Mo. is headed to China to take part in a series of games with Chinese teams in front of Major League Baseball scouts, In the process they’ll become the first high school baseball team (or at least team of high school-aged players) to compete in China.
As reported by Kansas City Fox affiliate WDAF, the Gold Glove Baseball Academy’s, 18-under squad, which pulls all of its players from Kansas City’s Northland area, left for a series of games that is being organized by former minor leaguer Ray Chang, who runs Major League Baseball’s development center in China as well as Gold Glove Academy. Chang also played in both the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics for China.
While players had to front the money for their own flights at a touch to stomach $1,600, Chang and MLB were able to support all other expenses over the course of the teens’ three-week trip, which will include seeing a number of sights in China when they’re not on a diamond.
Those pricey flights alone are a not insignificant part of the journey. Per WDAF, the team flew Southwest from Kansas City to Los Angeles, where they then have a layover before a flight from LAX International to Shanghai, where they are scheduled to land at around 2 a.m. Friday, local time.
Given that the Gold Glove Baseball facility is located in North Kansas City, Mo., and players all live nearby, all left their houses before 5 a.m. to reach KCI before the initial flight’s 7 a.m. takeoff. Total travel time after that initial takeoff? Seventeen hours.
Of course, the journey and experience are the real benefit for the Gold Glove players, as most seemed to realize.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity. It’s something not everyone gets to do,” Gold Glove Academy player Chris Keys, told WDAF. “Just to be able to go over there and experience a different culture, against different kids you’ve never seen before (will be valuable).”