In 2010 Gary Tonsager visited Benin on a Onesight mission giving eye exams and glasses to people in need. He fell in love with the small West African country and its people and decided to share his other passion - baseball.
Gary and Robbinsdale, Minnesota baseball coach Wally Langfellow joined forces and their Baseball in Benin organization strives to promote baseball in Benin. Baseball in Benin is based out of Minnesota and is currently focused on training coaches, setting up leagues, shipping baseball equipment and securing fields to play on. With the help of the organization in Minnesota and people on the ground in Benin, the game of baseball is expanding in the small west African nation.
These efforts are aided by passionate people on the ground in Benin
Gary Tonsager, owner of the Maple Grove Pearle Vision, is involved with a program called OneSight - their mission to bring eye exams and glasses to the 1 in 7 people on our planet who lack access to vision care.
Wally is the owner of Minnesota Score Magazine and has coached countless youth sports teams in the Robbinsdale area. He made his first trip to Benin in May of 2016 with Gary.
Alban Guidi was Gary’s interpreter when he arrived in this French-speaking country and having lived in the USA as a child, he bemoaned the lack of baseball in his country. They bonded over their shared love of baseball and an idea was born.
Coach Fernando also met Gary during his One Sight mission. Originally exposed to Baseball through Youtube videos, in 2013 Fernando got the opportunity to travel to Minnesota to train to become a certified Baseball coach. Fernando returned to Benin and is currently coaching over 200 kids. Fernando was a coach for team Benin when they visited Minnesota in 2016.
Coach Arnaud Adodo was another on of Gary's interpreters in Benin. He is currently a school teacher in Cocotomey, Benin. In 2014 he was trained and certified as a coach by Fernando. Arnaud also coached team Benin when the visited Minnesota in 2016.
Project Consultant Constant Somadjagbi met Gary at the One Sight clinic in 2010. He was the facilitator in charge of organizing the One Sight clinic. He is the project consultant for Baseball in Benin. Constant has dual citizenship with residences in both North Carolina and Cotonou, Benin.
African-born Kieran Lovegrove, a San Francisco Giant, who represented Africa in the MLB All Star Futures Game in 2018, heard about the efforts in Benin and is soliciting the help of other MLB Players. In addition to a well-supported plan to visit this region in the off-season, Kieran's Going to Bat Foundation is now focused on securing support for Beni