Saurabh Gaikwad’s road to becoming India's Fastest Pitcher
The incredible journey of Saurabh Gaikwad, India's rising baseball star, as he defies the odds, transitions from catcher to pitcher, and makes a remarkable comeback after a challenging shoulder injury.
The realm of sports is often molded by hard work and there exists a story that goes beyond the boundaries of the game itself. It's the remarkable journey of Saurabh Gaikwad, a young and aspiring baseball player whose rise to prominence has been extraordinary.
Saurabh's journey into the world of baseball began in 2013. At the time, he was just a sixth-grader, unaware of the sport's intricacies. The transformation from a novice to a proficient player was rapid, all thanks to his keen interest and an innate ability to grasp the game's nuances.
One fateful day during practice, Saurabh caught the eye of his coach. His exceptional fielding skills and natural aptitude for catching baseballs were undeniable. Within a mere 15 days of exposure to the sport, he was a catcher representing his team at the state championship, and soon, at the national level. Saurabh's rise was meteoric.
In 2015, the stakes were higher, and the team needed a pitcher. Without hesitation, the mantle of responsibility was passed to Saurabh. His journey from a catcher to a pitcher was seamless, marked by his unwavering commitment to excel. It was in the 2015 state championship that Saurabh's pitching skills were unveiled. Game after game, he left no batter safe on the first base, a remarkable achievement for a young player.
Over the next three years, Saurabh represented Maharashtra in three more national championships, clinching medals consistently. His talent was undeniable, and his dedication was unwavering. It was during this time that his coach, Vishnu Kalel, began focusing on Saurabh's diet and initiated specialized training routines. Every available resource was harnessed, from homemade woolen ladders to tires used as hurdles. Akshay left no stone unturned to hone Saurabh's skills.
In 2019, at just 16 years and 6 months of age, Saurabh competed in the Senior National Championship. During the final match, with Maharashtra trailing 0-4, Saurabh stepped up in more ways than one. He not only hit a game-changing three-run home run but also took the mound as the pitcher. Over the next six innings, he pitched with unwavering precision, achieving a no-hitter. This achievement was especially remarkable considering he faced opponents nearly a decade older than him.
Saurabh's journey hit an unexpected roadblock in 2020 when he suffered a shoulder injury. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his coach, Akshay, worked diligently on rehabilitation. Their search for the best treatment led them to Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala, a renowned orthopedic specialist. Dr. Pardiwala's guidance and the dedicated work of strength and conditioning coach Rupesh Pawar set Saurabh on a path to recovery.
In February 2023, Saurabh made a triumphant return to the field during the All India Baseball Championship. He pitched his fastball at an impressive 86 mph, solidifying his position as the second-fastest pitcher in India. His journey is a testament to resilience, dedication, and an unwavering belief in his abilities.
Saurabh Gaikwad's story is not just about baseball; it's about a young athlete defying the odds and pursuing excellence. His journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring athletes across the country, reminding us all that greatness is often nurtured by those who guide us.
As Saurabh continues to push his limits, one can only anticipate that the 90 mph mark is just around the corner, marking another remarkable chapter in the making of India's baseball sensation.
In the upcoming Dubai All-Star Showcase on November 24th and 25th, Saurabh is ready to shine as a key player for the United West All-Stars. Alongside seasoned players like Robinson Cano, Didi Gregorius, and Alex Liddi, all with Major League Baseball experience, Saurabh is set to make his mark on the global stage.
Kash Shaikh, CEO, Chairman, and Majority Owner of Baseball United, along with John Meidrich, Executive VP of Baseball Operations, deserves a special acknowledgment. Their tireless efforts have significantly contributed to the elevation of baseball globally, providing young talents with platforms to showcase their skills.