The league that was formerly known as the United International Baseball League (UIBL) has rebranded and it will have more involvement from Baseball Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera, who spent his entire 19-year Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees, and Barry Larkin, who spent the entirety of his 19-year Hall of Fame career with the Cincinnati Reds.
The league, which has been created to cater to the huge cricket audience in the Middle East, has now rebranded to be called “Baseball United.”
That audience has an average fan age that’s nearly half of MLB’s average fan age of 57.
Among the changes other than the new name are that Larkin and Rivera are now part of the ownership group of the league, who will start out four teams for their showcase next fall.
Yankees, Reds legends Mariano Rivera, Barry Larkin to take larger role with Baseball United
New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera and Cincinnati Reds legend Barry Larkin are among two of the new owners of Baseball United, which is now the second minority-owned sports league in U.S. history, after actor Ice Cube helped create BIG3, a 3-on-3 basketball league that was created in 2017.
Along with Rivera and Larkin, Kash Shaikh (who was the President and Chief Marketing Officer of UIBL) and John Miedreich, a former NYPD Commander of International Intelligence, will be part of the ownership group. Shaikh will now serve as President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, which was just established as part of the rebranding. Rivera, Larkin, and Miedreich will also be on the board as well.
Earlier this week, Larkin and Shaikh spoke with Call To The Pen about the changes to the league.
"“One of the things I’m most proud of is that (now), we’re a minority owned league, with myself, and Barry and Mariano Rivera,” Shaikh told Call To The Pen. “[A]ll of us on this journey have kind of grown up with diversity, inclusion, equity, and opportunity as as a core to who we are and what we do. It’s been a part of all of our journeys.“With the restructure, it’s really enabled Barry and Mariano to become even more forceful drivers of what we’re building. And I couldn’t think of two better people to do that, and to partner with, because not only are they great on the field, but they’re amazing business people off the field, and they got such a pure passion for growing the game and doing it in the right way.”"
Larkin echoed a similar sentiment as Shaikh.
“[The rebranding into Baseball United is] more about stewardship,” Larkin told Call To The Pen.
“With the previous regime, Kash was very involved, but Mariano and myself were not. With the change, we’re just much closer to the strategies going forward and helping in the implementation of many of the things that come naturally to us … We feel much more like a cohesive unit and a team.”
Larkin, who is still working with the Reds as one of two of their primary TV color analysts and as a Senior Adviser to Reds President and COO Phil Castellini, still plans on being with the Reds in 2023.
“I plan on continuing my duties with the Reds,” Larkin said. “The beauty of what we’re doing is there’s a lot of opportunity for us to make decisions remotely and meet through technology, which makes it easier. I will definitely be on the ground and shaking hands and making relationships in that part of the world. But our strategies can be implemented with me continuing my role with the Reds (for the 2023 season).”
The league will start play with a showcase next fall with four teams (that will be owned by the league, at least to start) before they are hoping to expand further throughout the Middle East in the years following that.