West African baseball having a ‘life-changing’ experience in Minnesota


A decade ago, most of the people in Benin had never heard of baseball. Now there are six leagues and 400 kids playing ball in the narrow wedge of a country sandwiched between Nigeria and Togo in West Africa. It all started because of eye exams.

Gary Tonsager, a Minnesota optician, went to Benin in 2010 as part of OneSight, an organization that travels abroad to give eye exams and eyeglasses to people who can’t afford them. While talking baseball with Alban Guidi, an interpreter and the son of a diplomat who had lived in the United States, Tonsager learned that baseball non-existent in Benin. So, he decided to do something about it.

When he returned to Minnesota, Tonsager asked friend and fellow coach in the Robbinsdale youth baseball program Wally Langfellow if he wanted to help start a…

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