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Forging Baseball dreams: The making of India’s fastest pitcher Akshay More

When Akshay More had lost the final of a district-level school tournament, it looked as if that was how far his baseball dreams would go. But his subsequent work with coach Vishnu Kalel has now made him the fastest pitcher in the country.

Forging Baseball dreams: The making of India’s fastest pitcher Akshay More

Syed Tawsif Ahmed

Updated: 22 Nov 2023 7:37 AM GMT

In the world of sports, where sweat and perseverance carve the path to success, there exist some stories that go beyond the game itself - like the tale of Akshay More and his coach, Vishnu Kalel, who transformed his passion into an unbreakable bond of mentorship and inspiration.

Hailing from the fields of Indapur, Pune, Akshay had been introduced to baseball in 2019 by his first coach, Vikram Galande. It seemed he was a natural, as he quickly made it to the district level playing for the Narayandas School team.

But when his school lost the final of a competition, it seemed like that was the end of baseball dreams for him. His Class X exams would be approaching soon anyway, and the Covid-19 pandemic would also mean that competitions would be few and far between.

This was when Akshay’s first coach decided he needed professional guidance. He suggested that Akshay works with Vishnu Kalel, a prominent name in the baseball circuit who had coached the likes of champion players like Saurabh Gaikwad previously.

“I still remember the first time we connected on call. It was for almost an hour and a half. I thought that he would discuss baseball but there was no mention of the game. He just taught me how a player should be and the discipline that is required to make a good player. That is what motivated me to do something and fall in love with baseball,” Akshay recalls.

They met for the first time in the winter of 2021 when Akshay was averaging a top speed of 75 mph with his pitches. In the beginning, they worked on his grip and how he threw the ball.

Vishnu recorded his videos from various angles to help him understand the mechanics of the game. He also sent him videos of Saurabh to help improve his technique.

Akshay and Vishnu weren’t just players and coaches - they were kindred spirits with a common dream. In order to achieve this dream, it was also important to communicate with Akshay’s family.

In a heartfelt note, Akshay remembers, ”Vishnu sir talked with my parents and helped convince them about my baseball career. It was my father's dream that I complete my degree in the Agriculture department. Vishnu sir helped search colleges for me where I could get admission in agriculture and focus on baseball at the same time.” This was during the time when he came in contact with Rakesh Kumar, the Physical Director of Lovely Professional University (LPU), Jalandhar, Punjab.

As the sun rose and set as Akshay and Vishnu walked out into the field with baseball gear every day, Vishnu wasn't just teaching baseball skills – he was nurturing character. Every swing, every throw was a lesson in resilience, discipline, and determination. Akshay soaked it all in.

In June 2022, he also worked with Rupesh Pawar, the former strength and conditioning of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), who had also worked with Saurabh previously to correct his pitching mechanics.

In October 2022, Vishnu informed him about Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league in the Middle East and South Asia.

A tough training routine followed as both mentor and student realized some important times were coming up in his budding career.

Akshay who is tall and lanky, gained 8 kgs in five months at the India Inter-University tournament, he won silver, averaging around 87-88 mph with a top speed of 91 mph. He was felicitated as 'The Pitcher Of the Tournament’ and soon became the fastest pitcher in India.

As Akshay’s name blazes forth, it's not just his accomplishments that shine, it's the legacy of Vishnu’s unwavering belief too.

Their journey, one of shared dreams and unbreakable bonds, continues to inspire, reminding us that greatness is often nurtured by the hands of those who guide us. In the realm of sports, where newer victories are celebrated and records are broken every day, it's stories like these that truly resonate. Their journey teaches us that while championships may fade, the impact of a mentor's wisdom and a player's perseverance leaves an indelible mark.

Akshay More is set to make a significant mark on the baseball stage as he proudly represents the United West All-Stars at the upcoming All-Star Showcase in Dubai. In the company of seasoned players such as Robinson Cano, Didi Gregorius and Alex Liddi with Major League Baseball experience, Akshay is presented with a golden opportunity to exhibit his talent at the global competition.

This event promises to be a crucial platform for him to showcase his skills and garner substantial exposure by competing alongside international champions. The Dubai All-Star Showcase, scheduled for November 24th and 25th, marks a pivotal moment in Akshay More's baseball career.

A special mention goes to Kash Shaikh, CEO, Chairman, and Majority Owner of Baseball United, along with John Meidrich, Executive VP of Baseball Operations, for their significant contributions to the world of baseball, providing platforms for young talents to shine on the global stage.

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