Sports 4-time MLB All-Star Ronald Acuna Jr. joining Baseball United ownership group

DUBAI: Baseball United, the first professional league focused on the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, has announced that four-time MLB All-Star and Most Valuable Player, Ronald Acuna Jr., has joined its investment and ownership group.

Acuna, ranked as the top player in baseball by MLB Network, becomes the youngest and highest-profile active athlete to join the new league.

Acuna, an All-MLB First Team selection, took home all of baseball’s top awards last season, including the National League MVP (unanimous), the Hank Aaron Award, and The Sporting News Player of the Year. The Atlanta Braves superstar, who is just 26 years old, hit 41 home runs and stole 73 bases last year to become the first player in MLB history with a 40-70 season. He also hit .337 while leading the league in 10 key statistical categories, including hits (217), runs (149), total bases (383) and on-base percentage (.416).

“It’s such an honor to welcome Ronald into the Baseball United family,” said Kash Shaikh, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Baseball United. “Ronald is not only a generational athlete and the game’s best player, but he’s a cultural icon who inspires fans all over the world.

“He truly believes that baseball can be global, and he plays the game with the type of passion, charisma, and style that can help millions of new fans fall in love with the game. Last year, while our team was making history bringing professional baseball to the Middle East for the first time, Ronald was making history of his own on the game’s biggest stage. Now, we get to go make history together.”

Acuna joins 19 other MLB legends within Baseball United’s ownership group, including Hall of Famers Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera and Adrian Beltre, as well as icons Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Bartolo Colon. The league began play in Dubai last November with an inaugural All-Star Showcase event, the first professional baseball games in the history of the region. The event was broadcast in 127 countries, reaching 200 million households.

Acuna is the fourth Venezuelan-born MLB star to invest in Baseball United, joining Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus and Robinson Chirinos.

“I am truly grateful to join the Baseball United family as an investor, co-owner, and an active ambassador to help grow the game we all love,” said Acuna. “It’s been exciting to watch what Kash, John (Miedreich), and the BU team has built over the past two years. They’ve done things that no one has ever done before.

“And now, I’m honored to be a part of it. Growing up in Venezuela, I always dreamed of making a big impact on the game of baseball. I’m very blessed to compete every day with my teammates to do that for Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves, and I can’t wait to help carry the game to new fans in the Middle East and South Asia with Baseball United.”

In addition to his ownership stake in Baseball United, Acuna will also play an ambassador role helping to promote the league, its teams, and players across his social media and at special events in the Middle East after the MLB season.

The league is scheduled to announce its 2024 plans and expansion franchises this summer. Baseball United’s first full season is slated for the winter of 2025.

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