With the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens as an impetus, and inspired by the
life story of Boston legend Harry Agganis, Chris Karalekas, born and raised in
New York City, set out on a dream. In 1998 he decided to dedicate
himself to help bring baseball to Greece against all odds.
In honor of his grandparents, parents, and his Greek ancestry,
Chris founded Baseball Acropolis, a 501-c- 3 non-profit organization.
With relentless passion, Chris and his younger cousin Gus Karalekas,
embarked on this pilgrimage to help bring the game we love to the land of
our forefathers by first meeting the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation
on January 11, 1999, at Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece.
Chris maintained that, given this unique and historic opportunity, it was as much
poetic justice, as it was a generational responsibility to help introduce,
nurture, and grow the game in the beautiful land of Greece.
Unyielding in his relentless desire to disprove the fallacy that the only American sport
that can succeed in Greece is basketball, he fervently maintained that the Greek
athlete unquestionionably had the physical pedigree and muscle twitch required to excel at the game.
Additionally, he knew that the Greek mind would love the pace, strategy, and nuances
of the game as long as there were venues to see the game, and learn the game.
After all, the game of baseball, on its own merits, is the diamond of diamonds.
Baseball Acropolis was an idea born by an idealist daring to dream that the most
democratic game in the world could provide a bridge to future generations.
Kids and adults alike from Greece and America could have a forum of commonality
to share their mutual heritage and language through the great game of baseball.
Five years of teaching the game to kids in various villages on soccer fields and
basketball courts is convincing enough evidence that budding baseball players
are taking root in Greece. The video images of children smiling after a great catch
or hit speaks volumes on the possibilities. The 16 current teams in
Athens under the auspices of the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation
are just scratching the surface of what is possible. Dimitri Goussios & Panos Mitsiopoulos
have done a tremendous job with the resources they have. With a great Olympic showing
(recruited and lead by The Angelos Family) by the Greek National Team,
the game will take root, baseball diamonds will
surface and the word “Homer” will take on a new meaning.
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