The REAL Million Dollar Arms: The Indian villagers who won a game show to play baseball in America – and inspired Disney’s new hit movie
- Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are the inspiration behind Million Dollar Arm
- Grew up in poverty in Indian villages before trying out in reality TV show
- Show aimed to find the best pitcher in India and bring them back to MLB
- Agent in charge, J.B. Bernstein, is played by Mad Men actor Jon Hamm
- Both boys were flown to America and given contracts by Pittsburgh Pirates
- Were able to buy new homes for their families with their new-found wealth
A pair of Indian teenagers being plucked from obscurity by a struggling sports agent to go and play professional baseball - this is the fanciful story behind Disney's latest film - Million Dollar Arm.
But amazingly, it is based on real life. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel's incredible rags to riches story took them from extreme poverty to the bright lights and big money of Major League Baseball, completely transforming their lives - all thanks to a game show.
Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein, played by Jon Hamm in the film, took a punt at rejuvenating his career by heading to India. His aim - trying to find boys who had never played the game before and turn them into huge stars.
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Real-life stars: Rinku Singh (left) and Dinesh Patel (right) are the inspiration behind new film Million Dollar Arm
Pitch perfect: Singh (left) and Patel (right) pose for a photo shoot in their Pittsburgh Pirates kit
Silver screen: The pair shown as depicted in the new hit Disney film, which stars Mad Men actor Jon Hamm
These boys turned out to be Singh and Patel - neither of whom had pitched a ball in their lives.
They both lived in poverty-stricken villages in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the north of the country, without running water - but ended up being flown to America and being put on the books of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Singh, the son of a truck driver from Bhadohi, lived with eight other siblings in just one room, while Patel was forced to be brought up by his grandmother in Khanpur as his parents were too poor to afford to raise him.
But then along came The Million Dollar Arm - a reality TV show dreamt up by Bernstein which would literally pitch 37,000 hopefuls against each other for the prize of $100,000, a shot at a Major League Baseball contract - and a chance to change everything, not just for themselves, but for their families.
Humble beginnings: Both Singh and Patel grew up in poverty, yet found themselves moving to America
Rags to pitches: The pair were signed up by MLB outfit the Pittsburgh Pirates and changed their lives forever
Singh emerged as the winner of the contest, and Patel as a talent too good to turn down. They suddenly found themselves moving to the USA after impressing scouts from the Pirates.
The pair became the first Indians to sign American Major League Baseball contracts, and were flown to Florida to join the Pirates' training camp, before being sent to play for the organisation's Gulf Coast League affiliates - a rookie-level minor league team which help players prepare for an eventual career in MLB.
Singh became the first Indian to make an appearance in a professional U.S. baseball game, with Patel close behind him, and they both enjoyed relatively successful starts to their careers.
Their fairytale was a dream come true for their families back home - both boys were able to buy new homes for their parents with the money earned from their contracts.
Pitching for success: Patel returned to India in 2010 and helped fellow villagers in the second Million Dollar Arm
In the money: The parents of Rinku Singh posing with the cheque for $100,000 he won as his prize
Singh, now 26, went on to play all over the world, including in the Dominican Rupublic and Australian leagues, and made the World All-Star team for the 2011 Australian Baseball League All-Star game.
In 2010, he even met President Obama.
After a hugely successful season with South Atlantic League side West Virginia Power in 2012, he missed the whole 2013 season through injury, and despite being invited to spring training by the Pittsburgh Pirates this year, will also miss the whole of this season as he undergoes elbow surgery.
Patel meanwhile was released after two seasons with the Gulf Coast League Pirates, and returned home to finish his studies.
He helped boys in his village prepare for the second instalment of The Million Dollar Arm, free of charge, before returning to javelin - a sport he had succeeded in in his youth, and competed at the national athletics championships in 2
Hollywood heroes: The two baseball players (standing right) as millions will see them in cinemas
Star of the show: Mad Men's Jon Hamm plays the struggling sports agent who discovers the two boys
The film is released today, and he has spoken about what a special moment it is for the two real-life stars, who have got to see their lives brought to Hollywood and the silver screen.
'It’s crazy that there is a film about our lives,' said Patel, 25. 'It was a beautiful moment when I watched the film, I was overwhelmed.
'Our lives over the last six years have been a dream come true - we could never imagine it. We're very thankful for all the opportunities that have come our way.'
In the film, Singh is played by Suraj Sharma, and Patel by Madhur Mittal. It has received fairly positive reviews, being rated 61 per cent by critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2737861/Rags-pitches-The-real-life-Indian-baseballers-rose-extreme-poverty-inspire-new-hit-Jon-Hamm-Disney-film-Million-Dollar-Arm.html#ixzz3gZl8Kwd9
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