Moraine Valley Community College baseball alumnus, Yunis Halim, competed in the West Asia Cup on Team Palestine. The West Asia Cup was created by Baseball United, run by retired professional major league players, to help the 2 billion cricket-loving people across India, Pakistan and the Middle East learn about and fall in love with baseball. It also finds athletes who have the potential talent to become professionals.
Halim played infield and converted to a pitcher while on the Moraine Valley baseball team from 2015 to 2017. He continued pitching for Chicago State University until he graduated in 2020 with a degree in criminal justice. After years of hard work and injuries, he wasn’t willing to subject himself to additional wear and tear on his body despite being asked to play in rec leagues with neighborhood guys. Then a few months ago, he was asked to represent Palestine, where his father was born and raised and his mother’s family is from, and he was in.
“They called me for years to play. I told them I didn’t want to play if it wasn’t something serious. This time they said it was serious. It was something motivating,” Halim said.
Countries that competed in the West Asia Cup included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine and Sri Lanka. The Palestinian team was comprised of athletes from Illinois, Indiana and California as well as Palestine, whose players had less experience in the game than the Americans. Anyone with some Palestinian roots was allowed to be on the team.
The team completed its roster near the end of 2022 and assembled before the tournament started in mid-January. Most of the guys played in college and continued in recreational men’s leagues, but they hadn’t played as a unit prior to forming this group. They headed to Islamabad, Pakistan, for the nine-day competition and finished second to the host country. The top two teams advance to the next round in the tournament in Taiwan this November.
Taking some time off from baseball did not dampen Halim’s skills because he earned an award for best pitcher in the tournament. He also went 9-for-9 at the plate.
“Going to Pakistan was the most fun and craziest experience I ever had. We felt like celebrities,” Halim shared. “I love baseball, but seeing it grow in different parts of the world was the most beautiful thing to see.”
In bringing baseball to these countries, Halim and his teammates are continuing to share and teach the game to those in Palestine and elsewhere. They even exchanged some gear with other teams that had subpar equipment during the tournament. “One of our team’s main goals is to teach and share the game. That’s the most important part of this experience,” Halim said.
Soon, Team Palestine will start training again, growing the squad and improving their fitness before the tournament in November. Halim said they will compete in local leagues to stay sharp. Now, he’s all in.
“This experience renewed my love of baseball, and I appreciate it more,” Halim expressed. “Now it’s more motivating especially when you represent your country. I’m inspired to travel, too. Because of this tournament, I might be chosen to play in Dubai. It’s surprising where baseball can take you.”
For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or Vizzam@morainevalley.edu.