Gaither baseball's Mirza preparing to join Pakistani national team – ABC Action News Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — Gaither High School junior outfielder Jackson Mirza, 16, had no idea that his sweet swing would grab the attention of Pakistan Federation Baseball.
“They texted me on Twitter,” Jackson said. “They said, ‘Do you have any Pakistani ethnicity?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, my grandfather.’ That’s where it started. We just kept in contact, talked with all the players, and now I’m basically on the team.”
Pakistan and baseball were a foreign concept to the Mirzas.
“I immediately responded with, ‘They have a team?’” Erik Mirza, Jackson’s dad, said. “It went on from there.”
Jackson’s grandfather is from Pakistan and flew in the country’s air force, making him 25% Pakistani.
The country’s national baseball team is trying to bolster its roster to qualify for the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics.
“They’re working hard to get some of these kind of ties where they still have Pakistani, they can qualify, but they also play at a higher level in the United States,” Erik, who is a baseball Hall of Fame at the University of Tampa, said.
Right now, Pakistan is ranked No. 38 in the world baseball rankings. The WBC takes the top 20 countries for the tournament.
Next summer, Jackson will play in a world baseball qualifier with Pakistan’s 18U team in Taiwan.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get to play over Taiwan,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to go to other countries and just play baseball.”
“What a cool experience in general,” Erik added. “You’re playing against South Korea, China, and Japan.”
Jackson just got his passport, but he still can’t speak Urdu, Pakistan’s national language. But that’s okay. He plans to let his game do all the talking.
I think it’s just the tools that I have: quick, strong, I can pitch,” Jackson said. “I think it’s the tools I have to win.”
“He has above-average speed; he has a plus-arm, left-handed hitter with a little bit of pop,” Gaither head coach Nelson North said. “He’s a stolen base threat. He can steal some bags. I think he would be one of the better Pakistanis over here right now.”
Jackson’s biggest supporter, his grandfather, can’t wait to see him in a Pakistani uniform.
“Oh, my dad. He’s 86,” Erik said of his father. “He teared up. It was just really cool for him. He served his country. He’s really excited about this.”
Jackson has verbally committed to play baseball at the University of South Florida.
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