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Chilundu Leopards: How A Nationals Fan Brought Baseball To Zambia

Chilundu Leopards: How A Nationals Fan Brought Baseball To Zambia

WASHINGTON — The Chilundu Leopards didn’t own a bat six months ago, much less know how to swing one. To that point in their young lives, they had never so much as seen a baseball growing up in Lusaka, Zambia.

You may have read about Lusaka before. It’s where Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw opened an orphanage in 2013. The Zambian capital has a striking wealth gap — much of the population is either well-off or living on less than a $1.50 a day.

It’s probably safe to say most of the Chilundu Leopards fall in the latter category.

Once a week they find respite from poverty on a local polo field, where they etch a makeshift baseball diamond out of thin rubber bases, stretched out along the chewed up grass they share with grazing horses. Where they get sprayed by a sprinkler system set on no specific timer.

While they may not know much about him, they know Ryan Zimmerman plays for the Washington Nationals and they are his biggest fans.